The Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) has called on the cabinet to speed up the process of approving the Road Public Passenger Transport Bill. The union demands that the government ensure it is tabled in parliament, as a matter of urgency.
This according to NTTU president, Werner Januarie, will be in line with the Minister of Works and Transport John Mutorwa’s assertion in a parliamentary statement in October last year, that his team has completed all stakeholder consultations on the bill. The Minister reiterated that public concerns were taken into consideration. These issues raised are being incorporated into the final text in order for the bill to reach the National Assembly in early 2020.
“They (cabinet) should inform us immediately about when the bill will be tabled in parliament. Then, they must invite us to the chambers to witness the discussions first-hand,” Januarie said.
His latest manoeuvre was preceded by a letter he sent two weeks ago to both Mutorwa and the secretary to cabinet, George Simataa. In this letter, the firebrand unionist says that he echoed president Hage Geingob’s New Year statement that “the persistent lack of implementation of government policies and programmes cannot continue.”
He further accused the legislature of having ‘elitist tendencies." He says that laws are fast-tracked only when they stand to benefit a few elites and political big-wigs. As an example, Januarie cited the amendments to the Marine Resources Act, which he says was rushed through parliament and was ultimately used to enrich a few well-connected individuals, now known as the Fishrot 6.
He further maintained that the NTTU membership has been ‘patient enough’ – since the submission of an earlier petition to the National Assembly in 2013. He is adamant that his union will not tolerate what he referred to as “draconian, obsolete and colonial laws of segregation.”
“This government is useless, incompetent and corrupt. It has been imposing an economic embargo on its own citizens, since the inception of the NTTU some fifteen years ago,” Januarie said.
In the strongly worded letter issued last year, Januarie claims that, “Namibia is a capitalist country run by kleptocrats. I reiterate that as a result of that, citizens of this country have lost faith in the in those running the state."
Meanwhile, the Windhoek Observer has learned that the bill in question, was submitted to cabinet by the Ministry of Works and Transport, and was approved in principle at the first cabinet meeting of the year, held on 4 February.
“Cabinet approved, in principle, the Public Passenger Road Transport Bill, 2019 and referred the Bill to the Cabinet Committee on Legislation (CCL) for scrutiny. It will then be tabled in the National Assembly,” Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Stanley Simataa said.
Illegal shuttle operators
In addition to his demand for the immediate tabling of the bill, the NTTU president raised some other pertinent industry concerns. He called on the Namibian police and road transport inspectors to do more to deal with illegal operators, whose illicit trade undercuts the income of NTTU members. He also urged the Namibia Airports Company (NAC) to review and reconsider the excessive amounts charged to legal operators for the right to transport passengers to the airport.
According to Januarie, there is no control at the facility which was intended for shuttle operations and as such, there have been numerous sightings of operators providing transport services at the airport, without the required regulatory documentation.
“We are pleading with the powers that be to provide the union with an opportunity to bring order to the airport by availing the facility provided for the shuttle operators to the union, in order for us to manage such facility until a permanent solution is found,” Januarie said.
The union called on the minister to intervene, or else it will be left with no choice but to take unspecified action. He maintained that Namibian shuttle operators have provided the police officers at the roadblocks with the vehicle registration numbers of illegal shuttle operators, but no concrete action has been taken so far.
This, he says, smacks of the existence of bribery and corrupt dealings between some members of the police force and the illegal shuttle operators. “Seriously take note that this opens a door and creates an opportunity for criminals to profit at the expense of registered operators.”