THE National Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) has warned that its members and supporters will embark on an indefinite public protest from July 26 if taxi fares are not increased by 40%.
This comes after the price of petrol increased by N$1.88 per litre, bringing the price of petrol to N$22.28 per liter on July 6 – a development which, according to the NTTU chairman, Werner Januarie, had a negative impact on taxi profitability.
“A liter of petrol now costs around N$22.00 and the taxi fare is only N$13.00. I don’t think you can run a business at a loss. It is not a charity. I said, a taxi is not a charity, it’s a business. We have families to feed,” Januarie said.
He said the union is aware of the country’s challenges, but taxi drivers are not to blame – and therefore these challenges should not be used as reasons to avoid taxi fare increases.
“The fact that the economy is not doing well can’t be the taxi drivers’ fault. The fact that there was Covid-19 cannot be blamed on taxi drivers. The fact that, for example, you don’t get a raise – like workers or teachers at Shoprite – cannot be applied to taxi drivers. Their shoulders are not so big to carry the problems of the whole audience,” he said.
Januarie also highlighted this in the union’s letter to Transport Minister John Mutorwa and added that taxi drivers have their own issues. According to him, taxi drivers “endure horrible pain and suffering” because they are unable to achieve the goals of their employers. As such, Januarie said, the union is unwilling to compromise and will persist in demanding higher taxi fares.
“Basically, we asked for a raise several times. Now we’re saying if they don’t consider the increase, we’re calling for a protest in two weeks,” he warned.
Januarie said the union was acting in accordance with section 12(3) of the Road Transport Act 1977 and, in addition to Mutorwa, they also informed the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Windhoek Municipality, O’Brien Hekandjo and the Khomas Regional Commander, Ismael Basson, of their intentions.
Januarie said that if their demands are not met, union members intend to assemble in the open ground adjacent to Eveline Court in Greenwell Matongo on July 26 at 6 a.m., before heading to the Department for Transport to make know their demands. He warned that this protest will continue for an indefinite period until their demands are met.