The Namibian Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) President, Werner Januarie says there is a need for the Government to revise and reduce fines for taxis since the majority of taxi drivers struggle to pay fines and debt due to the low salaries they are paid.
Januarie said taxi fines have been an issue for the past 30 years, adding that it is time for the Government to look into the matter to revise, adjust and reduce them to be affordable to taxi drivers.
“Drivers are people who get paid a low commission-only salary and they do not have pay slips. Some of the laws regulating traffic fines are outdated and can no longer reflect a good image to maintain traffic rules but rather collect money from the poor,” he said.
Januarie stressed that taxi drivers are essential workers that operate at all times to enable the transportation of Namibian residents.
He said if taxi drivers decide not to work for a single day, many people will not go to work including government employees.
“Taxi drivers should be represented and respected, and regarded as employees for the job they are doing. They are just employees like those that work in government, therefore it is not reasonable for them to pay high fines when they are already struggling to put bread on the table,” he emphasised.
January also said stakeholders were not properly consulted about some of the traffic fines being regulated.
“I am not saying there shouldn’t be traffic fines, but at least they should be revised and reduced so that they become affordable to the taxi drivers,’ he added.
He said a taxi is just a business, and if the driver is fined with many tickets, the business is also affected, just because the driver cannot afford to pay the tickets’ fine.
“This is where the problem comes in, and this is the reason we will not rest. Politicians are just protecting their own interests while ignoring the poor who are fighting poverty,” he stated.
He claimed taxi ticket fines have become discrimination and punishment for taxi drivers and those in the taxi business.
Namibian Police Major General Elias Mutota said it is not within the police authority to revise or reduce the traffic fines.
“That matter is with the jurisdiction of the Court. It is only the Court can resolve or look into the issue of ticket fines as he is requesting. It is advisable for him to go to Magistrate Court,” Mutota said.
Mutota indicated that there is a regulatory fine base on how the police can give fines depending on the nature of what traffic rules are contravened.
“The traffic fines are regulated and if a driver fails to settle the ticket fine on time, they will be issued with a warrant of arrest, which is not good,” he reiterated.
Windhoek City Police Public Relations Officer, Superintendent Marcelline Kiddy Murapo said if the traffic fines are to be revised and reduced, that should be discussed by the management.
The City Police just do their work in accordance with the law regulating traffic fines, maybe Mr January should discuss this with the management, she said. Murapo could not comment further, “I do not know any Act that may enable that to happen therefore I cannot say much.”