Windhoek — The future of the taxi and bus industry seems to be in a state of limbo with no clear directive as to which of two organisations is the authentic representative of the public transport sector. The latest rivalry plaguing the sector is between the newly formed Namibia Public Passenger Transport Association (NPPTA) and the troubled Namibian Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta). Each of the two organisations is fighting fiercely for recognition.
NPPTA is the rival breakaway faction of the beleaguered Nabta and was set up last year by a powerful coterie of disgruntled transport operators. It elected its leadership at the inaugural congress at Otjiwarongo last weekend. Deputy Minister of Transport Kilus Nguvauva opened the congress, while top officials such as the Deputy Commissioner of the Namibian Traffic Department, Ralph Ludwig, and others also attended the occasion.
Nguvauva was however clear when approached for comment on government recognition of NPPTA that his attendance "did not mean that the transport ministry has recognised the new association, as certain procedures still need to be followed." Nguvauva said he attended because he was invited by NPPTA.
NPPTA's newly appointed secretary for membership affairs, Uapingene Karuaera, said the association is "in the process of submitting documentation to the ministry of transport and the labour commission."
Nabta's new chief administrative officer, Vespa Muunda, hit back at NPPTA. "Let us make it clear to the public that Nabta has not been dissolved. It is still a legitimate association," he said, adding that NPPTA's congress would not diminish Nabta's popularity in the transport sector. "They hurried to hold one (congress) because they know that if we held ours before them, they would have a problem," Muunda claimed.
Nabta said it had sent a request to the transport minister, Erkki Nghimtina, to hold a congress at the end of March but is yet to receive an answer. Nguvauva said that he is not aware of Nabta's request to hold a congress. The labour commissioner has deregistered Nabta as an employee organisation.
In the meantime, allegations and counter-allegations continue to fly between Nabta and NPPTA's new leadership. Nabta accuses the breakaway leaders of NPPTA of embezzling N$4 million from Nabta coffers. Nabta also accuses NPPTA leaders of a smear campaign which includes the deregistration of Nabta to pave way for the establishment of NPPTA.
Nabta leaders also accuse Karuaera of stealing from Nabta. "We have evidence of money that was being recorded and it was only Karuaera who was depositing money into that account," Muunda said, showing receipt books of money that was mostly deposited into a Nedbank account.
The Nabta administrator said Karuaera was a signatory to that account but today the account has no money and that the labour commission office has been sending Karuaera letters to submit financials of the association but he ignored the requests.
"Now he ran away with the same money to start another association," Muunda alleged.
Nabta's Oshana regional chairperson Pendapala Nakathingo said Nabta was going to open a criminal case against Karuaera. Nabta is in the process of acquiring an independent auditor to do an urgent audit. Nabta has also asked NPPTA to vacate Nabta premises and bring back all goods that were "stolen" from the association.
Karauera has dismissed Muunda's allegations, saying "these people are playing".
He asked why do they not ask the bank for detailed statements to find out where money was used. "If money was taken out, it would show where it was used and who withdrew it," said Karuaera, adding that even if money was deposited, it did not stay idle as it was used for "other things".