By Peter Matengu
NAMIBIAN Police Traffic Unit has impounded 53 illegal and legal taxis over the Easter weekend in Katima Mulilo, due to traffic violations, transport and security concerns.
The accused taxi owners and operators violated traffic and driving regulations, such as driving without a driver’s license, driving without an endorsed authorization permit.
They were also charged for operating a taxi without a work permit, operating a personal motor vehicle as a taxi and permitting a person without a driver’s license to operate or drive a motor vehicle.
Deputy Commissioner and Crime Coordinator for Zambezi Region Evans Simasiku told the taxi drivers on Tuesday, whose vehicles were impounded, “I want Katima Mulilo Town and Zambezi region at large to be a safer environment for its residents and visitors. We can only achieve this by total eradication of illegal taxis that operates around. These vehicles operating as transport providers have become one of the major sources of crimes, which range from kidnaping, rape, robberies, and transportation of stolen goods”. The commissioner in a stern voice emphasized that, time for verbal warnings has elapsed and now its time for action.
Still at the same occasion the commissioner lashed out at 10 foreigners from Zambia whose taxis they operate were seized due to driver’s license, work permits and valid immigration documents that permits them to be in Namibia legally.
“All foreign taxi drivers whose vehicle they were operating were impounded will get traffic fines based on traffic and transport regulations they dishonored and some will be charged on immigration violations they by passed. It is not that I dislike Zambian nationals seeking greener pasture to work in Namibia; on the contrary I like them they are our brothers. They must apply for work permits like other professions if they want to work in Namibia. They must know and understand that Namibia is not a lawlessness country but a nation governed with rules and regulations and everyone living or working in Namibia must live by them.”
Mr.Simasiku also warned 8 taxi owners whose vehicles were impounded to refrain from doing business with private vehicles and he urged them to register their vehicles as taxis for them to operate legally and also to employ drivers with driving licenses, endorsed permits and with work permits in case of foreigners.
“We will continue issuing fines to your drivers and yourselves who permitted them to operate your cars. And if you don’t pay fines, warrants of arrest will be issued to you and we shall meet in the court of law.”
He also warned taxi drivers who usually operate with registration numbers of the different towns. “Some of you standing here you do not even know the names of your taxi drivers. Some of you are operating vehicles that have registrations of other towns other than Katima Mulilo as local taxis, please go register your vehicles as taxis in their respective towns of registration”.
Speaking to Caprivi Vision, Deputy Commissioner Simasiku had this to say, “They must know that it is not a once off operation but an on going task they have embarked upon for the safety of the community. It is not that we hate them (taxi drivers, owners and foreign operators) it is just that their operation is uncalled for. A thief is not a thief until he is caught; it’s when his name will change from Martin to thief”.
The Deputy Commissioner also gave a stern warning to fellow police officers who are rumored to employ foreign nationals as their taxi operators. He vividly said he is tracking them down and if caught disciplinary measures will be matted against the culprits. Justice for all citizens he emphasized.
He added that two weeks ago before Easter the police caught about 23 taxis that were operating in the same unlawful manner, vehicles were released and taxi owners changed drivers to avert detections.
“They must know that if they think they are clever to push forward twice we are going to push forward four times their efforts”.
The commissioner went as far as saying Zambezi region in the only one with unmarked taxis and it encourages or promotes crimes as it is difficult for the visitors and foreigners to distinguish between private vehicles and taxis.
When asked what could be the main problem to the influx of illegal taxis, he had this to say, “The main problem is the taxi associations, they do not call their members to order, I therefore appeal to the taxi associations to encourage their members to mark their taxis in order to remedy the situation.
However, Chairperson of Namibia Public Passengers and Taxi Association (NPPTA), Mr. Abel Mubu told this paper that “I am tired of repeating the same thing over and over, you talk and people don’t act, when police do their job they want to point fingers. In February a delegation from Windhoek with Roads Authority came with 250 copies of application to come remedy the situation and only 4 people turned up for that meeting despite having informed them in advance. I won’t blame the police for caring out their duties but the car owners who fail to take the necessary steps in registering their cars.”
The Caprivi Vision has also established that among the 53 confiscated vehicles, a handful of them beard Windhoek, Rundu, Oshakati registration number plates and one Toyota Ipsum beard a Rundu registration plate whilst its license disc indicated that it bears a personalized registration.