By Charles Tjatindi
Public transport passengers hoping to travel to various destinations around the country this month-end could be left without transport if long distance mini-bus drivers press ahead with plans to go on strike.
The Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA) has announced that its members will temporarily down tools for a peaceful demonstration that will culminate in the handing over of a petition to the Minister of Works, Transport and Communication next Wednesday.
After consulting with the ministry for some time, NABTA noted that these consultations came to nothing, leaving them with no option but to stage a demonstration in order to have their grievances heard.
NABTA alleges that the absence of proper policies in place to guide public passenger transporters could lead to the death of the industry.
The association especially singled out illegal passenger transport being conducted by sedan vehicles between towns without proper documentation, as well as bakkies and trucks ferrying people to work on a daily basis with impunity.
The chairman of NABTA’s task force organizing the demonstration, George van Wyk, told New Era that all operators within the industry that are affected by the current lack of guidelines – whether they are NABTA members of not – will form part of the demonstration.
“Most operators agreed to stop business for the time of the demonstration. Business will only commence after the handing over of the petition,” he said.
Van Wyk noted that the demonstration became necessary as some operators allegedly threatened to take the law into their own hands by preventing illegal transporters from taking away their customers.
“These people have had enough. If nothing is done soon, they could end up taking the law into their own hands, which will not be a perfect scenario,” said Van Wyk.
The association also alleges that cross-border transporters are “violating the law at will”, and called for stiffer guidelines which exist in other countries such as South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana to be enforced.
NABTA also feels that the ongoing battle with mini-bus operators who prefer not to load at designated loading zones has caused a lot of confusion within the industry, and should not be allowed to continue.
According to NABTA, the line ministry has been informed of all the concerns, but nothing has been forthcoming thus far.
“The ministry has not been doing anything about it. Why are they ignoring our concerns? That is why we just have to demonstrate to make our voices heard by the ministry,” remarked Van Wyk.