NTTU regroups after strike

Taxi owners whose cars were towed away during Monday's standoff with the police in Windhoek had to pay for the tow-in service before getting them back.

25 April 2018 | Transport

At least 20 taxi owners retrieved their vehicles at a cost of N$1 000 each yesterday, after the vehicles were impounded on Monday when a strike turned heated between law-enforcement officers and operators.

One of at least five tow-in company owners, brought in by the police to remove taxis blocking the street near the City Police headquarters on Monday, said it had agreed to release the vehicles at a price of N$1 000 each for the tow-in service costs.

Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) boss Werner Januarie said the end of Monday's large-scale strike action was disappointing, blaming the police for using “false tactics”.

He further said an executive meeting was scheduled for this Sunday, where members whose taxis were towed away could discuss possible solutions.

Januarie claimed that when he entered the City Police headquarters with senior law-enforcement officials after lunchtime on Monday to discuss the way forward, “we never imagined they called us inside with the intention of dispersing our members while we were in the meeting”.

While Januarie was inside, many of the taxi drivers still at the scene after the morning strike action, left the premises after police opened the cordoned-off roads.

“When we came out, everybody was done,” Januarie said.

It is unclear what led to the decision of the remaining taxi drivers to leave the scene.

Januarie said this left him and his NTTU executive without any means to address members.

“Their plan was for our event to end in failure,” he alleged.

He said NTTU is not beaten and are now planning a second meeting to discuss the way forward.

“For now we will regroup and call another meeting with our members,” he said.

Januarie further told Namibian Sun yesterday that while the ministry of works and transport remained mum on the issues highlighted in Monday's petition, he was hopeful of a personal meeting with the minister soon.

“We hear that the minister of works is willing to meet us and we are looking forward to meeting him soon,” Januarie said.

In a statement issued on Monday, works and transport minister John Mutorwa said his ministry did not receive a written or verbal notification of the taxi strike.

Mutorwa however noted that the ministry, “including its minister, are ready and remain ready, to listen to any grievances; emanating from our various and most important stakeholders, including NTTU, with the ultimate objective of eventually, to collectively and amicably, resolving such 'effective and efficient delivery of services'.”

The NTTU-organised strike was aimed at demanding a hike in fares, improved regulations and the recognition of taxi drivers, as well as the reduction of traffic fines and other longstanding issues.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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