Windhoek-The change to winter time might be a thing of the past as it appears the majority of Namibians are in favour of having summer time as standard time throughout the year, as also resolved by Cabinet.
This is according to findings from consultations held with the public on whether Namibia should maintain summer time as standard time during winter. The findings were presented by the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Pendukeni Iivula-Ithana, when she tabled the Namibian Time Bill in the National Assembly yesterday.
She said consultations with the public were held between December 2015 and February 2016 with 97 percent of respondents in favour of maintaining standard time two hours in advance of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT+2).
She added that out of 3 507 responses, 3 096 people indicated being in favour of keeping only summer time as standard time while 304 were in support of maintaining summer time and winter time.
Iivula-Ithana pointed out that the winter time change was introduced mainly to accommodate school-going children, especially those in rural and informal settlement areas who walked to and from school in the dark during winter, and a concern to this effect was raised.
She added that the time change improves their (school-going children’s) safety and security in winter, noting that it was therefore proposed that schools could start an hour later than the time they start now, as is appropriate to the learner population.
The Zambezi Region, which does not change time, was another concern raised, she said, adding that this makes it difficult to communicate and coordinate daily work with staff members in the region during the time change.
“As for business it was widely argued that Namibia loses a lot of business as it operates outside normal business hours with the rest of the region, especially South Africa that is our important trading partner,” Iivula-Ithana stressed.
She added that the impact of the winter time change is said to be an estimated loss of four business hours daily, which is one hour in the morning, one hour when people go on lunch, one hour when people go for lunch and one hour when they knock off, according to findings from the consultations.
She noted that those arguing against maintaining summer time as standard time in winter were of the view that the world does not use one standard time, yet business does not come to a standstill and Namibia does business with countries that are at different time zones.
Those arguing against were also of the view that America does business with China while the two countries have at most a 13-hour time difference. Some sectors argued that as an alternative or as a solution information communication technology (ICT) tools must be harnessed for businesses to make up the time difference.
The daylight saving time, she explained, “was introduced to save energy by turning the lights on one hour later … and maximize on the sunshine. To rebut this it is submitted that daylight saving time does not save energy and therefore has no advantage.”
Others said electricity/candle consumption is too excessive for the long evenings, too expensive for the consumer and too sacred to waste.
She said that other views included that the current time change arrangement is in Namibia’s favour because energy utilities can easily access the power from the region as the country’s peak hours are not aligned with those of its neighbours.
Iivula-Ithana stressed that in the event that time changes back to Central African Time (CAT), Namibian peak hours will be aligned to that of Eskom and the region, which will not only expose Namibia to high time use of tariffs, but will make it difficult for Namibia to access the power due to constrained transmission lines and high demand during peak hours.
The Bill has not yet been approved by the august House and discussions on it will only continue in the second week of March.