Bus owners and drivers operating between Rehoboth and Windhoek are concerned government has made public transportation regulations to curb Covid-19 without consulting stakeholders. These were the remarks of a group of 70 drivers and owners who fear for their livelihoods and the survival of the industry.
“They imposed these regulations without considering how it impact and affect our lives. They do not involve public transportation associations when making these regulations. They simply went ahead making laws and regulations (because they have the power to do so) and impose it on the general public with heavy fines,” they stated. The group also indicated that they are heavily affected by the public transport regulations for Covid-19 as regulation 10 (5) stipulates that every owner or operator of a vehicle used for the purposes of conveying persons or goods for reward must ensure that the driver of a public vehicle carrying passengers wears a mask.
In addition, the driver must ensure that all passengers wear masks at all times. The regulation further stipulates that drivers must provide alcohol-based hand sanitisers for use in the vehicle and regularly disinfect or cause the regular disinfection of the vehicle used for the purposes of conveying persons or goods before and after each conveyance. “Some of these regulations are not practical. We are finding ourselves in a very bad economic situation,” they said. The drivers also explained that some of the regulations will only work better if there was assistance from government.
Operators say if they are forced to continue to only use half of their vehicles’ capacity without any aid from government, public transportation will collapse. The group further made the breakdown of financial burdens the regulations caused them. The group said it has left a lot of commuters stranded, as most of them were on fixed contracts.
“Most of our customers are on monthly fixed contracts and on such contracts, you give discounts. Now we are operating in negatives because some of the customers are removed from the bus because of those regulations.”
They claim government did not put alternatives for workers who were left stranded, as a result, the drivers have now lost their regular customers and are forced to breach contracts. Furthermore, they called on government to properly train police officers on the regulations as some officers are misinterpreting the laws and issue them with hefty fines.
“This is a very sensitive situation for all of us, but our police officers are rude, unprofessional and misinterpreting the law at the roadblock. It is a pain that they are mistreating us as if we are guilty of the situation,” they plead. The secretary general of Namibia Bus and Taxi Association, Pendapala Nakathingo last week told New Era that the association is engaging the police to resolve the matter.