Andrew Kathindi

The Namibia Transport and Taxi Union (NTTU) is calling for the N$14 taxi fare to remain in place whether or not the state of emergency is lifted on Thursday at midnight.

This comes after the union’s attempt to increase the going taxi rate to N$15.40 for 1 September, citing an increase in the price for petrol was rejected by Ministry of Works and Transport.

NTTU leader Werner Januarie said the union is looking at the situation on the ground and is considering a demonstration in this regard.

“We did make a request previously, which was turned down by the Ministry. What we are saying now is that the fare should remain N$14 whether or not the state of emergency is lifted on Thursday. Right now, we are looking at writing a petition and also holding a peaceful demonstration to ensure that N$14 remains intact,” Januarie told Windhoek Observer.

President Hage Geingob is yet to pronounce himself on the extension of the state of emergency, but on Friday appeared to hint that he could extend it if the public do not “behave”.

The President would, however, will require a two/third Parliament majority (66 members of the 95 voting members) to be able to extend the state of emergency, and amid indications by Popular Democratic Leader, McHenry Venaani that his party would not support any extension as it will have an adverse effect on the economy.

Januarie agreed with these sentiments, stating, “I don’t know why in this world the President would think of extending the state of emergency when it is stifling and killing the economy. Corona is already here. Are we going to have state of emergency for the next 10 years? These regulations that they’ve put in place really put our lives in a mess.”

He has argued that even with the restrictions, the spread of COVID-19 continues.

As part of measures implemented when the state of emergency was first introduced in March, the maximum number of passengers taxi operators were required to carry at a time was reduced to three, to enforce social distancing.

To curb the final loss the decrease in passengers was going to have on taxi owners, the Ministry instituted a temporary increase of the fare from N$12 to N$14.

Januarie argued that they would be willing to negotiate on new measures but taxis must load to full capacity.

“Once the state of emergency goes, then all those measures they put in place are gone automatically. The measures don’t need to stay 100 percent as before. We can have new measures, for example passengers must wear a mask and sanitize,” he said.

Works Minister John Mutorwa previously stated that the N$14 increment would cease at the end of the state of emergency.

“Therefore, the increment is temporary and will cease at the end of the state of emergency or until full capacity loading is permitted. Hence the 15 percent increment cannot stand permanent as you proposed, due to the fact that the motivational factors surrounding the recent bus and taxi fare increase are provisional and temporary,” said Mutorwa.