Minibus drivers up in arms

22 July 2021 | Transport

Windhoek • [email protected]

Minibus taxi operators that mainly serve the capital’s informal settlements, refused to provide further services yesterday.
According to the secretary general of the Namibian Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) Pendapala Nakathingo, he met with the commander of the Khomas region, comm. Ismael Basson, but nothing could be done as the police only follow the letter of the law.
The relevant regulations limit minibus taxi passengers to half of their capacity to maintain social distance. However, the operators say they cannot generate sufficient revenue in this way, and also complain about the injustice with the application of this measure on municipal buses, Nakathingo says.
One operator has already been fined N$8 000 for transporting too many passengers. “I have the ticket here with me!” Nakathingo said yesterday. “Nabta has determined how social distance can be maintained within public transport and we submitted our proposals to government, but this has not been taken into account,” he said.
Long-distance operators are also being disadvantaged by the new regulations, he says.
The situation is not as bad for sedan taxis, as they can carry up to three passengers, which is still more than 50%, the Nabta leader says.
Nevertheless, regulations announced on Monday are still difficult to comply with.
Although Nakathingo says Nabta supports the regulation that drivers and passengers must wear masks at all times, he asks how taxi drivers and operators can afford hand sanitizer, which should always be available in the vehicle, as well as regular disinfection of vehicles. “Where will they get the money? Everything is more expensive; petrol, tyres, spare parts. How will they survive? ” he asked.
Nakathingo says government should have accommodated public transportation providers by ensuring provision for hand cleaners, and assisting with vehicle disinfection.
He says the uproar against the situation led to chaos yesterday, where a large crowd of people gathered; another risk for the spread of Covid.
According to him, police officers from all regions should meet next Wednesday to give feedback on Nampol's contribution to the fight against Covid-19.
The new regulations and the way forward will be discussed there, but Nakathingo says the only hope is that the national restriction will be lifted.
“If it is extended again, the situation will worsen. It will bring chaos. The suspension of the restriction will be in the best interests of us all,” he says.

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