Otjiwarongo taxi drivers protest for better roads

Niël Terblanché

Approximately 300 taxi drivers in Otjiwarongo ceased their operations and took to the streets yesterday in protest of the deplorable condition of the town’s roads.

Their show of unity and determination in the collective action brought to light the growing frustration among local taxi operators over deep potholes and other infrastructural issues that have long plagued their daily operations which include vehicle damage that hinders their ability to provide essential services.

Lazarus Mateus, acting as the group’s spokesperson, presented a petition to the Otjiwarongo Municipality, voicing several critical concerns.

Chief among these was the dire state of the paved roads which Mateus suggested could be downgraded to gravel roads as a temporary measure to alleviate the problem.

The striking taxi drivers called for the establishment of more taxi ranks and voiced their discontent with the N$350 fee for taxi identification numbers, which they argue is much too expensive.

Their grievances were listed in a petition that was handed to the mayor of Otjiwarongo and they demanded that the municipality respond to these complaints within three weeks.

Otjiwarongo Mayor, Gotlieb Shivute, received the petition and assured the protesting drivers that their concerns would be addressed.

The promise of the mayor follows on the heels of Shivute’s appeal for patience at a community meeting over the weekend, where he outlined plans to commence the rehabilitation and maintenance of all residential roads in the first week of April.

Shivute revealed that the Town Council has entered into a significant N$71 million agreement with the Roads Authority and Roads Fund Administration.

He said the three-year project, set to begin next month, aims to overhaul the town’s road infrastructure.

He added that the town council is finalizing the procurement of a Bitumen Maintenance Unit to tackle routes not covered by the Roads Authority’s current scope of work, indicating a comprehensive approach to road maintenance and improvement.

The mayor’s announcement also emphasized ongoing efforts, including the upgrade and renovation of Henk Willemse Road into an interlocked route, with completion expected in May.

This project, especially pertinent for the route leading from the Orwetoveni location to the town centre, is part of a broader initiative to enhance Otjiwarongo’s road network.

The taxi drivers’ protest stresses the critical role that they play in the town’s daily life and the significant impact of infrastructure on their ability to operate effectively.

Their action serves as a reminder of the need for immediate and tangible improvements to the town’s road infrastructure.

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