It was recently reported in the newspaper that the City of Windhoek is modernising the urban transport plan. This is long overdue and I hope that it will be done as speedily as possible, and in consultation with consumers. In this article I wish to look at the broader concept of transport in the country, and propose certain areas which local authorities, and transport institutions should look at when developing their plans to the benefit of consumers.
Namibia has a predominantly public taxi system compared to a private (radio taxi) system. This means that in most towns a consumer can take a taxi with other customers and be dropped at any destination they request.
The biggest problem in local taxis seems to be the lack of indications potential customers can give to indicate where they wish to go. A customer can stand anywhere and hope to get a taxi to take any point they wish. In fact, I often see customers standing on the wrong side of the road to the direction they wish to go in. This causes unnecessary problems with multiple stopping taxis and irate other road users.
I would like to suggest the Namibia Bus and Taxi Association come up with a “finger guide” within towns to indicate where they wish to be dropped off. For example in Windhoek, a thumb raised means City Centre, a hand on the head would mean UNAM and a raised fist could mean Avis.
In addition, I would like to suggest we as customers also take responsibility of where we wish to be picked up and dropped off. If we do not think carefully about the road hazard we create, the local authorities and law enforcement will be forced to write a fine for customers we indicate they wish to picked up or dropped at dangerous places
On a personal point of notice: I notice that the residents of Park Foods in Khomasdal do not have a taxi rank within their area. A taxi rank is stationed at the entrance to the area (situated in front of a property owned by the Khomas Regional Council), but no further stops within their area. This should be expanded by NABTA.
In terms of long haul taxis, NABTA must become a consumer oriented service organisation. The executive must be aware of the unruly behaviour exhibited by some taxi owners at their loading areas, as well as their “bag of tricks” used on unsuspecting customers.
Public Bus Transport
I would like to see a public transport bus company in Namibia that covers all the major towns and tourist destinations. There must be a middle ground between the public transport taxis and the scheduled shuttles that will provide affordable, safe transport for locals and tourists alike.
(While I am dreaming, I would like to see a inner city train service in Windhoek. Imagine getting onto a train at UNAM, getting off at Bahnhof for a coffee or dentists appointment and then continuing on to a friend’s house in Avis?)
But back to bus services.
The city of Windhoek is becoming a busy place and many of the cars on the road are carrying only one or two people. The public bus service exists but has not updated from an Apartheid service which provides low cost transport to domestic workers and labourers travelling from the low cost townships to the CBD and high cost suburbs in the mornings and back again in the evenings. It needs to be modernised to provide affordable and reliable transport between all areas of the city. Most modern city authorities provide this through published time tables and even goes so far as to create dedicated bus lanes. Why not Windhoek?
Once again on a personal note, I wonder why there is no bus service through Khomasdal. The bus stops are clearly marked on the streets throughout the township, but I have yet to see a municipal bus stop at any one of these bus stops.
Lastly, I would also like to see a proposal for public train and air transport service that delivers commuters cheaply and safely between towns. Or will this only happen in 2030?