Over 100 seven-seater drivers yesterday brought traffic in Windhoek to a standstill to protest the annulling of their licenses as transport operators.
The drivers demand that their revoked licenses be restored as they are currently operating illegally and often receive traffic fines, with one driver having outstanding tickets worth N$25 000.
Feeling like “stepchildren of the transport industry”, the Seven Seaters Association members say they are being discriminated against due to the Road Transportation Act No.74 of 1977.
They said their mission is to assist government to alleviate the shortage of public transport, job creation and to support their families.
Despite receiving a letter from the ministry of transport stating that any person, “who operates a public passenger road transport service, as defined in the Act, inclusive of the seven-seaters, cannot and may not be legally discriminated against”, the drivers still feel discriminated against.
Deputy transport minister Veikko Nekundi re-emphasised the government’s stance that these operators may not be harassed.
He received the petition on behalf of minister John Mutorwa.
Seven-seater operators are not allowed to transport passengers over long distances unless granted a permit to do so over a distance of no more than 55 kilometres.
Chairperson of the Seven Seaters Association Benedict Ndjitaviua demanded that the law be amended to include seven-seaters in the transportation industry, for a radius of 400km, that their tickets be nullified, that law enforcement agents treat them as citizens and not criminals at roadblocks and that chief inspector Alex Ganaseb from the police traffic department be transferred as they blame him for all their problems.
If their demands are not met in 14 days, the drivers said, they would organise a bigger countrywide demonstration, “causing colossal havoc”.
“We shall fight in the transport industry with all weapons in our kitchen, be it utensils, pots so be it. Enough is enough!” said Ndjitaviua.
Chanting in agreement “enough is enough, we want permits”, the drivers said they are disappointed as they are struggling to make ends meet, which might force them to turn to crime.
Nekundi committed to revert to the demonstrators before the deadline.
“Be assured that you will be invited to the table so these issues can be addressed,” said Nekundi.
On their demand that the Act must be amended, Nekundi told the demonstrators that this has been done internally and that the Ministry of Justice’s legal drafters are working on the amendment and it would thereafter go to parliament.
“The Ministry of Works and Transport does not discriminate against seven-seaters,” said Nekundi.