The Namibian parliament has lately been debating whether Namibian winter time should be scrapped and the country should once again revert to a single standard time, which is summer time.
This is after Cabinet had reportedly unanimously decided on reversion to a single time. This is following a public poll with 97 percent of those polled in favour of scrapping winter time.
While one may not question the quality of the polling yours truly cannot but speculate its stratification that targeted only selected sections or instances of the population.
One would have thought an important sector of the population that must have been polled is those dealing with children and schools. Because after all one of the main considerations of changing to winter time was the safety and security of especially schoolchildren in view of the usual darkness in the early morning hours of winter when children walk to school.
One of these strata and which surely must have been properly and rightly polled for its opinion is the business sector. But it cannot have been the only sector that matters. As much as one must indeed admit that the Namibian business community has been uneasy about winter time for re-aligning its business hours out of alignment with those of its regional counterparts, especially in our southern neighbour of South Africa, it is not really conclusively clear to what extent winter time for the past 23 years that it has been in existence in Namibia has actually disadvantaged Namibia businesses.
Not only this but if indeed Namibian businesses all these years, 23 years in total, have really been bearing some losses, should they really not have done something about this rather than taking them all these 23 years to seek the necessary change?
It is hard to believe this. On the contrary one would have believed that after 23 years during which businesses would have made the necessary adaptions, adjustments and acclimatisation to winter time, winter time cannot and could not be a problem 23 years down the line. Certainly there’s no way one can deny the losses Namibian businesses may have suffered. But as alluded to in the beginning, the business community is not the only interest group in this matter. One has to also consider thousands of voiceless children attending schools. One paramount reason why the country introduced winter time must of course have been consideration for pupils who not only have to endure harsh winter weather but which is coupled with darkness and thus a security risk to them.
The harsh reality that Namibia still has to face 27 years after independence this year, is that violence against especially the girl child in this country is still rampant, and sadly so in many of our homes where these children must feel safe. Now if these children have not been safe in their own homes can one really expect them to be safe in harsh icy and dark hours during winter as per the old standard time? Definitely not. And this must have been one consideration for the introduction of winter time. To protect children. Not every child, especially from our sprawling townships of Katutura have the privilege of transport to schools. Many if not most of them for that matter have to walk to school and are thus daily exposed to harsh winter conditions and the lurking hazards in the darkness, of rapists, murderers and molesters. Not only this, but even those who daily make use of the municipal bus services have been equally exposed given the usually long distances from their homes to bus stations. These harsh realities of 23 years standing after winter time was introduced, are still very much a part of the daily living of our school children. But now that Cabinet has already decided in favour of the re-introduction of standard time in winter, it is any wonder if Parliament may reverse such a decision. But Parliament as opposed to Cabinet ordinarily is expected to be in tune with its constituencies. One such constituency is our schoolchildren and in this regard certainly these children are understandably pinning their hopes on their lawmakers soberly applying their minds and consciousness to this matter by looking at how the time change can adversely impact the less privileged.
But one is aware that there’s also the option of changing school time. In the interest of balancing the various competing interests, certainly this is an option that must be seriously considered. That means going ahead with changing to one standard time, which is summer time but consider changing the times when children would start school in the morning. One cannot see this option disadvantaging many. The only problem probably being the inconvenience of parents not being able to take children along to schools en route to work.
But one cannot foresee how much disturbance this can be compared to the inconvenience of switching back to summer time and exposing school children to the greater risk of insecurity.