WINDHOEK – The Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) wants the Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina, to retract the press release in which he announced the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) is the legally recognised taxi association to regulate and deal with the public transport sector.
Acting on the instructions of the Namibia Public Passenger Transport Association (NPPTA), LAC said in a ‘notice’ issued to the transport ministry that if the minister failed to reverse the press release, an application would be launched to “review and set aside the press release with costs”.
The letter to the minister maintained that the said press release violates the right of the members of their client (NPPTA) on the basis of Article 21 (e) of the Namibian Constitution which states that, “All persons shall have the right to freedom of association, which shall include freedom to form and join any association or union including trade unions and political parties.”
The LAC stressed that the NPPTA has hundreds of members operating public transport businesses and that coercing those members to join Nabta or not to operate their taxis and buses would be in violation of Article 21 (j) which says, “All persons shall have the right to practice any profession, or carry out any occupation, trade or business.”
“We are further instructed that the said press release of the aforesaid Minister violates the members of our client’s right to administrative justice in that the conduct of the aforesaid Minister is unfair and unreasonable and does not comply with common law and the principles of natural justice in the recognition of Nabta to the exclusion of NPPTA, more particularly that of audit alteram partem (hear the other side too).”
The LAC says its client is a duly registered association and in law, a recognized juristic person.
“This implied allegation by the aforesaid Minister that our client is not recognized and/or that Nabta is the only recognized association in the public transport sector is unlawful and wrongful for the aforesaid reasons,” the letter further states.
The LAC said it accorded the aforesaid Minister an opportunity to correct the aforesaid unconstitutional conduct within three days after receipt thereof.
The NPPTA and Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) rejected the transport ministry’s announcement that it recognized Nabta as the only “legally mandated,” association to deal and regulate the public transport sector in Namibia.
In a joined press statement, the two transport bodies called the Minister’s press statement “totally irresponsible and out of context of the current situation”.
The NPPTA said that it had applied in writing to the transport ministry on March 26 2013 for recognition, but was informed by the ministry’s permanent secretary that the Ministry could not issue recognition, as the current law did not cater for this.
Similarly, the NTTU also lashed out at the Ministry, saying that they had written a letter on July 29 2013 to the Minister and have not received any response relating to their requests.
“On what basis did the Minister recognize Nabta if there are no acts or regulations prescribing it?” asked the NPPTA.
The two associations said it was “contradictory” that the Minister had taken such a decision.
“This shows that the Minister encourages the chaos that prevails in the industry, as Nabta officials proclaim they are government,” the taxi bodies lashed out.
They said that it now proved that all their efforts in co-operating with government and especially the transport ministry to bring about change and contribute to the betterment of the industry had gone unnoticed by the Minister.
The NPPTA said that since its inception, it has been addressing issues relating to public passenger transport with the Directorate of Transport in the Ministry and has made positive contributions to workshops held to address the situation.
“NPPTA has even requested on several occasions in writing for a meeting with the Minister and until this day we have not received a response.”
The association said that for long, they have refused to be dragged into the war of words and slanderous allegations made against NPPTA and senior officials of the association and rebuked the allegations as they were made to “sidetrack NPPTA from its ultimate goals”, said the association.
By Magreth Nunuhe