The struggle to get home

01 April 2020 | Transport

Ester Kamati

Windhoek



The owner of a Khomasdal home shop and takeaway, Gerhard van der Westhuizen, says he is concerned about the safety of his staff, especially when it's time for them to go home.

His five staff members all live in informal settlements and usually make use of public transport, which has now become a problem since the coronavirus lockdown came into effect in the Khomas and Erongo regions.

As per the lockdown rules, Van der Westhuizen allows his staff to leave at 18:00, after which they look for taxis to go home.

He has supplied them with a letter that states the reason for their movement in the evening.

Roadblocks

Ester Mwafangeyo, who works in the kitchen of the home shop, said on her way home recently, the taxi she was in was stopped between People's Primary School and the Ombili four-way, where a traffic officer aggressively questioned them.

According to her, the officer said taxis are supposed to stop operations at 18:00 and may no longer transport people after that time.

This is the time Mwafangeyo leaves work.

She added that her regular taxi driver will no longer be able to transport her as he wants avoid these types of confrontations with traffic officers.

Van der Westhuizen told Namibian Sun he would much rather let his staff go than allow them to go through this every day.

“I am even considering locking down, which would mean them losing employment.

“This would mean I can't even provide services to the community, and this is where they eat.”

He urged government to provide clear information to the community, especially to business owners and taxi drivers, on the way forward.



New normal

Guidelines and regulations released by information minister Peya Mushelenga stated that supermarkets and home kiosks will be allowed to operate during normal trading hours to allow residents to provide and care for themselves and their families.

Little has, however, been said about taxis.

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