Taxi union vows legal action

31 May 2018 | Transport

Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) boss Werner Januarie says his threat to take legal action against the works and transport ministry will become reality soon.

Yesterday, Januarie told Namibian Sun that a meeting hosted by works and transport minister John Mutorwa on Monday to discuss issues plaguing the public transport sector, while welcomed by the NTTU, did not meet the union's demands or expectations.

“One could say the meeting went well, but we didn't get what we demanded,” he said.

Januarie said given the unsatisfactory outcome, the union would make an announcement on 17 June regarding its plan to take the government to court.

He said the NTTU did not want to say anything about it at Monday's meeting. “The atmosphere did not allow us … we did not want to spoil the good mood.”

Monday's meeting was “filled with a lot of excuses of why they could not do anything now. We are not interested in their excuses,” Januarie added.

In contrast, Pendapala Nakathingo of the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta), who also attended Monday's meeting, said he was pleased with the outcome.

“The minister listened attentively and asked for accountability for all parties involved, not only on a ministerial level, but also at board and association levels.”

He further noted that the meeting enabled the industry players to “identify the loopholes and challenges that have led to the situation that we are in today,” which he described as a positive step in the right direction.

Nakathingo said Nabta agreed that current regulations must be brought in line with the needs of the industry, which “is in total chaos from top to bottom”.

He said cooperation and teamwork by everyone involved were needed to resolve the “crisis in the industry” and Monday's meeting could give new impetus to this process.

He warned that implementing solutions would take time, considering that the ministry and others had to work according to the laws, policies and procedures that guide processes.



Open discussion

Nakathingo said the minister instructed relevant parties to draw up a comprehensive report on solutions to the problems discussed on Monday, which should then be submitted to the cabinet.

“The minister took the matter very seriously. I was there myself. He was transparent and honest,” he said.

Namibian Sun's sister publication Republikein reported that Mutorwa took to task the transport sector players and demanded they pull up their socks.

Mutorwa said the ministry's role was not to resolve disputes between transport associations, although it could offer advice and proposals on how best to address challenges.

He further called on all role-players to stand together to resolve the issues at hand.

In response to Januarie's vow to take legal action, Nakathingo told Namibian Sun that the threat was made in his individual capacity. “It is a personal claim. I could call it irrelevant.”

Monday's meeting was scheduled by the ministry in response to a request by the NTTU for a consultative meeting following a taxi strike last month.

The NTTU has long demanded the repeal of the Road Transport Act of 1977, which it describes as “unlawful and unconstitutional” because it does not offer protection to employees in the public transport sector.

Further, NTTU members have protested against high traffic fines, describing them too as “unconstitutional”.

Yesterday Januarie claimed that while the ministry and other stakeholders agreed on the need for law reform to better regulate the industry, the pace of progress was too slow.

JANA-MARI SMITH

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