By William Mbangula
The Minister of Works Transport and Communication, Joel Kaapanda, has urged all stakeholders in the transport industry to ensure that the chaotic situation at loading zones of buses and taxis comes to an end.
The appeal was made during a meeting here, attended by local and regional councillors, police and NABTA (Namibia Bus and Taxi Association) leaders.
He said collective efforts by politicians, the police and owners of transport facilities should address this burning issue mainly prevalent at Omatala open market in Oshakati and Ondangwa loading zones.
“No one should wash his/her hands with regard to this persisting situation, including myself as a Minister. Let us take responsibility for what is happening now. If a child or woman is forced into a taxi or bus this should be our responsibility because we have failed to put up measures and mechanisms which will ensure the safety of passengers. The public have been crying out about the chaotic situation at loading zones where there is no law and order at all. It is our fault and all of us are guilty parties to what is happening.”
He described the bus and taxis operators as unruly people who think that they are invincible and untouchable. They feel they are powerful because all of them (the authorities) are powerless, something he feels is sending wrong signals to members of the public.
The Minister explained that he has consulted with the police over the situation and that they are willing to act provided the loading zones are regulated by the local authorities and organisations of transport owners.
Kaapanda proposed that a Road Safety Committee under the chairmanship of the governor be established to start regulating the transport industry in the region. As part of the envisaged measures to co-ordinate and control the activities of the taxis and buses, the Minister proposed that uniform colour and number plates should be considered for the purpose of identification and proper management.
He urged local authorities to make sure that once proper loading zones are identified, they should have public amenities.
Addressing the local and regional authorities, he said they should start owning the regulation of the transport industry with the envisaged decentralisation policies to be effected soon. Once such a policy is implemented, concerned institutions will be responsible for issuing transport permits and allocating loading zones. He advised them to borrow ideas from the Swakopmund Town Council, which recently put up a proper loading zone, something, which could be used as a yardstick by others who intend to create similar facilities.
NABTA president, Magnus Nangombe, said he was pleased to see that almost every stakeholder in the transport industry is acknowledging that there is a need to address the chaotic situation at loading zones where passengers are being victimised. He said the meeting was an ideal platform for leaders from relevant authorities to put ideas together in order to find a lasting solution.
The meeting, which was chaired by the Governor of Oshana, Clemens Kashuupulwa, agreed to come up with interim measures to address the situation, while lasting solutions are being sought. Kashuupulwa emphasised the need to protect the lives of passengers by ensuring that road safety becomes the cornerstone of the operational methods used by all bus and taxi operators.