Govt rubbishes taxi fare increase

… says NTTU is confusing commuters

By Tracy Tafirenyika

THE government has rejected the decision made by the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union to increase the taxi fare to N$15.40 from the current N$14 saying that it is unacceptable and illegal.

This comes after NTTU president Werner Januarie announced this week that taxi fare will go up as of September 1 to cover for losses made by taxi drivers during the pandemic.

However, the Ministry of Works and Transport spokesperson Julius Ngweda refuted this announcement highlighting that for any taxi fare to be increased the process had to be approved by the Namibian transportation board together with the ministry and not for NTTU to decide alone.

“No unions or associations have the mandate or authority to make such a decision without consulting the government. What Januarie is talking about is very illegal and cannot be allowed to confuse the nation. He is causing havoc among the commuters who are using taxis in the country,” Ngweda explained to Confidente.

He went on to say that people should not pay the fee of N$15.40 but rather continue to pay the amended taxi fee of N$14 implemented for the Covid-19 period.

“Even if September comes, people who are using public transport will only be allowed to pay the amount that we have increased during the Covid-19. No one will be allowed to pay N$15.40 because it was not approved. In terms of the transport act of 1977 the operators are the ones that need to apply not Januarie, he does not know what he is doing.”

Ngweda further stressed that Covid-19 has negatively impacted all sectors in Namibia and therefore government will not allow a sudden increase on taxi fare.

“It is not good that we are in this Covid-19 crisis and people are suffering to get money and now he wants to increase the taxi fare again. We will not tolerate that at all, he needs to be reminded that he is a union member and what he is doing is illegal.”

Secretary general of the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (NABTA), Pendapala Nakathingo supported Ngweda’s view.

“I am not aware of that (the fare increase). Januarie has no right to increase the taxi fare. We have been advising the government to stop these particular individuals for taking such actions and now this issue will cause panic and confusion amongst people. The ministry should stop him immediately because he does not have that right to do so,” he said.

He further highlighted that Januarie’s actions were causing panic and confusion between taxi drivers and public transport users.

“It’s high time the Ministry takes charge and stop him immediately. The government should not let individuals of such associations mess up the community. It should be clear that Namibian people and the government at large do not support such decisions,” he stressed.

When asked about the NTTU decision to increase taxi fare without consulting the other stakeholders, Januarie said that the law clearly stipulates that when fuel prices increase, any taxi union or association can give notice within 10 days of an increase.

“…not even a request or an application or whatever just a simple notice to increase the fare. If the government increases the fuel prices, we will also increase the taxi fare by not more than 10 percent this is according to section 12, 4E of the Transportation Act number 77 of 1974,” he added.

He said that people need to take into consideration that taxi drivers have lost a lot during the pandemic and that the increment was to cover up for the losses.

“We do not have any other choice because we need to balance the situation in order to cover up the income they lost. l gave the government a notice and they should know that, if the fuel price goes up, we will also increase the taxi fares,” said Januarie .