The temporary hike in bus and taxi fares by Road Transportation Board (RTB) on Monday has triggered public outrage and protests, with some saying the increase during this time of the Coronavirus pandemic is harsh to public transport users.
RTB in a joint media statement with the ministry of works and transport on Monday announced a temporary increase of 15% on all bus and taxi fares, citing substantial loss as a result of the social distancing measures implemented to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
RTB chairperson Browny
Mutrifa said they received a submission from three entities to increase the tariff charged with 10%, 12% and 33%, respectively, to make up for the fact the operators can only fill buses and taxis up to 50% to allow for social distancing among commuters
“In consideration of the state of emergency Covid-19 regulation, 2020, as amended, and the requests and complaints as received, the RTB has deliberated and resolved to increase bus and taxi fare with 15%,” he said.
However, he was quick to note that the increase was temporary and will cease with the end of the state of emergency or until such time buses and taxis are allowed to load to full capacity.
The increase comes at the time when many workers’ salaries, in most cases, have been reduced by 20%, while in extreme cases, cut in half.
The increase means public transport users will now pay up to N$13.80 for a one-way taxi trip to work, while those commuting from informal settlements such as Okahandja Park to Grove Mall will be forking out double the amount.
Speaking to New Era yesterday, Metal and Allied Namibian Workers Union (MANWU) Secretary General Justina Jonas-Emvula said “Eish, this is tough for the workers, especially now the majority of workers, especially in the private sector, are faced with salary reduction. Increase in the taxi and bus fare this time around is harsh to the working class.”
Jonas-Emvula said the union recognises the need for adjustment but this could have waited up until the situation has normalised.
“The majority of workers have no transport subsidy; hence, they pay out of their little income they get. This is really going to be tough for the working class. Most of employees’ wage increases are put on hold because companies need to sustain business and save jobs. I think the 15% this time is harsh on the working class,” she said.
Veteran journalist Tabby Moyo said the hike would bring more misery to workers who are already affected by the pandemic, making their lives more and more miserable.
“But this board didn’t also take into consideration the drastic reduction in fuel prices, which was supposed to cushion the operators. Now the downtrodden consumers have to bear the brunt of it all,” said Moyo in reaction to the news via Twitter on Monday night.
However, local economist Omu Kakujaha-Matundu said the rise was expected.
“A painful increase to already hard-hit commuters, but it is a necessary step. We can’t expect equally hard-hit transport operators to subsidised commuters,” he said.
He said the halving of the loading capacity of buses and taxis has greatly affected transport operators.
“For this essential service to continue, commuters have to meet operators halfway. The 15% the taxi fare for Windhoek becomes somewhat odd, something like 13.80 or so,” he said.
“They could have tried to work it out to Ṅ$14, I think, depending on a break even for operators. Government should subsidise the difference so as to keep operators in business. Otherwise, they will go bust or a parallel market will ensue,” he added.
2020-05-13 10:30:55 | 4 months ago