By Eliaser Ndeyanale
A group of striking Windhoek taxi drivers Tuesday resorted to criminality when they pulled a foreign taxi driver from his car, robbed him of money and punctured his tyres.
When Confidente arrived at Donkerhoek in Katutura were the taxi drivers are striking, a Zimbabwean taxi driver was being pulled out of his vehicle- a grey Nissan March- by more than 10 local drivers who took money from him, punctured his tyres while asking for his taxi permit and driving licence.
The strike is targeted among other issues aprohibiting foreigners from doing manual work.
Asked if taxi drivers were practising xenophobia, president of the Namibia Transport and Taxi Union Werner Januarie denied claims that Namibian taxi drivers were xenophobic.
He said local taxi drivers were abiding by the law of the country that forbids foreigners from doing ‘manual labour’ in Namibia.
”We are not xenophobic. We do not believe that to make someone obey the law of the country justifies the label of xenophobia. Recently the President (Hage Geingob) signed a law that prohibits foreigners from practicing manual labour be it hairdressing or pushing wheelbarrows. If you or anyone think that we are xenophobic then it’s the Government that is xenophobic for crafting such laws,” said Januarie.
He also said that in a meeting with the Deputy Minister of Works James Sankwasa on Tuesday morning, Government asked for more time to address the issue.
Other taxi drivers who spoke to Confidente raised concern with foreigners driving taxis, which they claim, was against the law.
”There are Zimbabweans who are driving taxis and they don’t have permits to do so. We don’t want that. Some of those people don’t even use local banks … they bank in their own country,” said a disgruntled local driver, adding that foreigners were making business difficult for them.
A female taxi driver who was also part of the strike said she did not have a problem with foreign taxi drivers; all she wants is for the reduction of traffic fines.
”You are being issued a N$2 000 traffic fine (sic) … where do police officers think we get money from? Traffic fines must be reduced,” she complained.
She also complained about lack of taxi ranks in Windhoek. She said many of them are fined thousands of dollars for illegally picking up customers in the streets, and they want Government to commit to the development of new taxi ranks as soon as possible.
Taxi drivers have staged several strikes in previous years to express dissatisfaction over traffic fines.
A senior police officer who was also present at the strike urged taxi drivers who were rather disruptive, not to be violent but to conduct a peaceful demonstration. The police officer said should the taxi drivers continue with their unruly behaviour, the law would take its course.
“Mr Januarie I don’t want your members to instigate anyone. I don’t want to see anyone infringing on anybody’s rights. If we find you infringing on anybody’s rights we will come in. This is not a threat but we will come (sic),” he cautioned.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015