Late last month, the National Assembly responded to a petition submitted by the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) on 25 July. The petition was subsequently referred to the Standing Committee on Constitutional and Legal Affairs on 3 October 2013, and the committee held a meeting with the NTTU on 15 October. The National Assembly’s committee scheduled public hearings from Monday, 4 November to Friday, 8 November.
NTTU wants government to address issues faced by Namibian taxi drivers, including high traffic fines, the inadequate provision of taxi ranks and loading zones for commuters, as well as disrespect and non-recognition of taxi drivers by government. Another concern of the taxi union is the intended acquisition of mini-busses by the municipality of Windhoek, which could make taxis redundant. Other concerns include conditions of employment and benefits for taxi drivers, and non-conformity of existing laws, rules and regulations, leaving taxi drivers feeling harassed and unfairly treated by law-enforcement agencies.
This week, the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund issued a response to the petition by NTTU, and found relevance in only two out of the seven issues. According to MVA’s acting chief executive officer, Stephen Tjiuoro, high traffic fines are necessary to deter would-be traffic offenders, as road-safety education for adults is toothless. “The fund has been involved in extensive road-safety campaigns over the past 10 years, but cannot claim any success with those interventions,” he pointed out.
According to MVA’s statistics, most Namibian road accidents are still caused by speeding and fatigue, dangerous overtaking, and pedestrians. “It is quite obvious from the above listed causes of crashes that most of the crashes on Namibian roads are a direct result of bad road-user behaviour, more than anything else. To that extent, the fund came to a realisation that it needed to address behavioural attitudes of road users in order for its interventions to yield the desired results,” Tjiuoro said.
He explained that adult road users are well informed about good road- user behaviour but deliberately choose not to comply with the law. “In light of this, the only effective intervention the fund discovered to work in respect of this category is law enforcement,” he said. “It is common cause that effective punishment is the only deterrent factor, not the mere fact of being caught. Therefore, it is the MVA Fund’s position that fines be structured as such that they serve as a sufficient deterrent to would-be offenders. If the fines are reduced it may not serve that purpose,” he said.
However, Tjiuoro did support the taxi union regarding inadequate taxi ranks. “The fund views this inadequacy as a contributing factor to the disorderliness that prevails in the streets of Windhoek. The same can be said about inadequate zebra crossings for pedestrians,” he said.