Windhoek-The reserve force of the Namibian Police had to be called in yesterday to help tow away about 37 taxi vehicles that blocked a Windhoek road during a protest by taxi drivers who are demanding, amongst others, an increase in fares.
One taxi driver was arrested for obstruction, while his peers set up roadblocks at more than one point of the city.
Taxi drivers are demanding an increment to N$12 from N$10 in fares as well as a reduction in what they called ‘unjust’ and ‘unconstitutional’ traffic fines. Led by the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU), the drivers in a petition also demanded that their union be recognised by the government.
NTTU president Werner Januarie – who also served as commissar for transport and social development for the Namibia Economic Freedom Fighters (NEFF) political outfit – has been battling for years to have the union recognised. The protest was conducted in a fairly orderly manner in the morning, but from lunchtime tempers flared after the drivers were told that their demands to get answers to their demands within two hours were unrealistic.
They were told to go home and wait for feedback for at least two days, but drivers would have none of that. Instead, they planned to drive in a long convoy to the Ministry of Works and Transport and demand feedback – a plan that the police rejected.
Their intention to drive to John Mutorwa’s ministry was because drivers felt those attending to them did not have tangible solutions to their demands and hence needed to speak to higher authority. A deputy permanent secretary in the ministry of works was delegated to accept the petition. It was at this juncture that the drivers decided to form a blockade by parking their vehicles in the road leading to their Windhoek Police head office. With numerous appeals to remove the vehicles falling on deaf ears, police called in tow-in services to remove the vehicles for ease of traffic.
In the petition, NTTU threatened that if their demands are not considered favourably, they would embark on a court process to squeeze solutions out of government.
In a statement late yesterday, Mutorwa said he remained ready to engage NTTU with the aim to find an amicable solution, as long as such solutions are within the ambit of the country’s laws and constitution.