Transport Business Is Overfull

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Prospective business people who want to venture into the public transport industry be warned: “Don’t even dream about it.” This warning comes from the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) that claims the industry is saturated and unprofitable. In an interview with New Era, the president of Nabta, Magnus Nangombe, advised that all members of the public with intentions to engage in public passenger transportation should consult Nabta’s loading terminals committees countrywide before they apply for permits from the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communication. Nangombe said that currently the industry is saturated with some operators not making a single trip in a month. This problem, he said, affects all routes. At present, there are more than 3 000 registered long-distance buses. The number is likely to be higher as there are also some pirate operators. This has resulted in some individuals losing their buses and other property to financial institutions where they obtained the loans for the buses. Unfortunately, Nangombe could not provide figures on how many individuals have fallen victim to such losses. “The scenario is that those in the industry hardly make any single trip per month and most of them face a bleak future as some of their buses are being repossessed or have already been repossessed,” he said. This has also resulted in situations where bus owners struggle to pay their drivers, as there is no profit coming from the business. Nangombe stressed that Nabta made the decision to warn the public because of the present tense situation. “The overtraded scenario has resulted in a tense situation where current public passenger operators are refusing or rejecting new comers in the industry,” Nangombe revealed. This has in most cases led to fights between newcomers and those already in the industry. “They (old operators) have vowed to fight and protect the routes to prevent further repossession of their remaining buses and other assets by the bank,” said the Nabta president. Last year May, Nabta submitted a proposal to the works ministry suggesting that it considers suspending the issuing of new public permits to prevent further overtrading in the industry. This request, according to Nangombe, was ignored and the outcome is visible as there are many cases of fights among transport operators in the country. “We have operators shooting each other, fighting for customers in order to have a single trip per month and we are waiting for the ministry to consider our request to prevent this,” he added. A meeting is scheduled for early next week involving Nabta, the ministry and other relevant stakeholders. “We hope to iron out all these problems at this two-day meeting,” he said. Nangombe also appealed to law enforcement officers to bring the culprits to book and prevent further lawlessness in the industry.