The Namibia Bus and Taxi Association’s (NABTA) Secretary-General, Pendapala Nakathingo, has alleged that its removal from the premises of the Rhino Park Puma Energy Namibia Service Station in Windhoek was driven by hidden agendas of its rival association’s operators.
Puma Rhino park was home to long-distance operators and seven-seaters operating between Windhoek and the coastal towns.
The dispute between Puma and the NABTA-affiliated long-distance bus operators, over ownership of the premises, has been ongoing since 2013.
A court order was issued by the High Court last year, which ruled in favour of Puma Energy Namibia, forcing the taxi association officials to vacate the premises. The case was resolved in January.
According to Nakathingo, in February 1993, Caltex Oil Namibia, now renamed Puma Energy Namibia, entered into a joint venture agreement with the taxi association in respect of the said piece of land and the agreement stipulates that the parties would pursue negotiations with Windhoek Municipality to acquire land to set up offices and a service station for the taxi association to be executed by Caltex.
“We have been at the Puma service station long before it exchanged ownerships from Caltex to Puma Energy Namibia,” he said.
Nakathingo, in an interview with the Windhoek Observer yesterday said that those operating at the premises will not face the court order, but it will be the taxi association officials instead.
Nakathingo however, cited individual operators from the Namibia Public Passenger Transport Association (NPPTA) which is Nabta’s rival as being at the root of the problem they currently experience.
“The operators were not operating on their own when they were there at the Rhino Park, and they were not given any court order or eviction. The court order was between the taxi association and Puma. Those individual operators were the ones causing problems there at Rhino Park and they are the ones misleading and misinforming the people because they are from the rival association”, said Nakathingo.
He however, confirmed that the court judgement was drafted in favour of Puma while indicating that they have observed that one of the people from the revival association was present during the judgement while it had nothing to do with them. He described the presence of the rival association member as “very questionable”.
He stated that no one was chased or evicted from the Puma premises to date, but members of the rival association have been instigating and threatening other operators to cause the taxi association to be removed so that they can remain at the premises.
Since then, they have been in discussion and have submitted an interim arrangement to Puma’s lawyers.
They are still awaiting a response.
“None of our operators can be evicted in the name of a court order. No one must leave unless an individual decides to do so, this whole matter is being fused by the rival operators who just have an agenda against the taxi association,” said Nakathingo.
Nakathingo added that he has informed the association’s members that none of them will be removed from the premises, and that they will continue dialogues with Puma to find a solution to the matter.
Meanwhile, the Namibia Public Passenger Transport Association’s Secretary General, Uapingene Karuaera, denied all allegations made by Nakathingo.
He refuted Nakathingo’s claims that NPPTA members instigated the taxi association’s removal. In his defence, Karuaera said that there is no truth in Nakathingo’s claims, adding that he is the one spreading false information to operators.
“I am sick and tired of NABTA. They are trying to blame everybody who is trying to do the right thing. In fact, NABTA as an association is deregistered by the labour commissioner. They are not supposed to be speaking on behalf of the transport operators, and for NABTA to go around spreading lies that I am the instigator is a lie. I have the case document with me,” he said.
Karuaera stated that they never knew about any court case, claiming that they have been in the dark all the time, and the taxi association has never met the operators to tell them about it.
They had to find out about it on their own.
“They never even told the members, we were in the dark the whole time, we knew nothing until we learned about the document, we tried to speak to Puma to accord us time, but Puma could not wait on us, so we told operators to do what the court says. We cannot be relying on Nakathingo to tell lies. I have the document in my hands as we speak. Nakathingo must stop spreading lies,” he said.