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Taxi drivers declare war

Taxi drivers declare war

Niël Terblanché

 

THREATS of war are flying across Namibia after the Namibian Police launched a countrywide campaign to remove long-distance taxis, known colloquially as seven-seaters, from the country’s roads.

 

In the Kavango West seven-seater drivers, who lost their only source of income the moment they stopped at a police checkpoint protested by blocking the only road between Oshikango and Rundu with their cars.

 

The blockade did not allow any other vehicles through and some of the drivers threatened authorities with war.

 

WAR BREWING: Seven seater drivers in the Kavango West threatened authorities with war after their only source of income, their longs distance taxis were taken off the road at a police checkpoint. – Footage: Contributed

 

“We fought a war for a long time in the Kavango. We can easily return to doing so again,” one of the drivers said in a video clip.

 

The high fatality rate associated with seven-seaters when these vehicles are involved in road accidents has led to a situation where the Roads Authority under the Ministry of Works and Transport no longer certify the vehicles as able to transport passengers over long distances.

 

“These vehicles are designed for commuters in cities in overseas countries. The problem with the application of these vehicles in Namibia, however, means that they are loaded to capacity with people and their baggage which often lead to mechanical malfunctions or tyre failure and ultimately to fatal accidents,” one traffic official at a roadblock where the campaign is underway, said.

 

After traffic officials started stopping and inspecting driver credentials many of the seven-seater taxis were taken off the road. Officials removed the license disks from the vehicles of drivers that did not have public transport permits for themselves or their taxis.

 

The protest across Namibia follows some protest action by one of the smaller taxi unions between Rehoboth and Windhoek about a week ago.

 

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