What about NDF trucks asks Parkhouse
After the Minister of Works and Transport, Hon. Errki Nghimtina, City Police Chief, Abraham Kanime and Motor Vehicle Accident Fund Corporate Communications Manager, Catherine Shipushu addressed the media on road safety, Secretary General of the Namibian Employers Federation, Tim Parkhouse said “One should also ask what caused the accident? Was the truck road worthy? Was the driver correctly licensed and trained? Was this vehicle officially carrying the workers?”
“Any employer in transporting staff in whatever manner is trying to assist the workers to get to and from work in an economical manner. However, compromise on safety should never be allowed” said Parkhouse who made submissions to a Parliamentary Standing Committee on 8 March 2011 on the issue of safe transport for workers..
“Recently one of the NEF members took disciplinary action against a worker who refused to sit on the employer’s vehicle, but insisted on dangerously standing, albeit to the risk of his own safety. The alternative for workers to have to make their own way to work and back home would place additional burdens on the workers while at the same time relieving the employer from any responsibility, but is that a solution?” said Parkhouse.
Drawing contrasts between the various factors at play, Parkhouse said, “The workers are exposed to the elements, wind, sun, rain. The workers may face injury if the vehicle is involved in a serious accident. No cost to the worker. No hunting for a taxi, by the worker. No waiting for a municipal bus. We take note and appreciate the improvements in process and planned by the Windhoek Municipal bus service, but this will take time.”
Listing the options for immediate improvement, he said “Ensure that all workers are seated on the floor of the truck, not standing and not seated on the side. This must also be enforced on NDF trucks. Ensure that there is no overloading, limit the numbers per vehicle just as the loading of Municipal buses, or a mini bus is limited. Ensure that the driver is correctly licensed, and competent. Ensure that the vehicle is mechanically sound. Recommend a removable metal or canvas top for protection against weather. Encourage the use of bicycles and encourage the installation of cycle lanes as in Swakopmund.”
“One aspect made to the parliamentary standing committee and repeated here is that economical safe frequent public transport throughout Namibia is becoming a must,” concluded Parkhouse.
Metal and Allied Worker’s Union Secretary General, Justina Jonas said, “The Metal and Allied Worker’s Union have raised this matter for a long time. We were fighting our own battle but last year [during] negotiation at the national level, the issues was raised and discussed in depth to ensure that employers, especially in the construction industry, provide decent transport for workers. Some employers changed but the majority did not.”
“Employer have the responsibility to ensure that workers get to work on time, and if you have given an employee a benefit, you do not take it away, in this case, the employers should have alternatives to transport their workers to work. They can hire buses to transport their employees to work. The same time, municipalities should increase cheap public transport, so that workers can use them on a daily basis,” said Jonas.
“We have also met with the Ministry of Works and the Metal and Allied Worker’s Union advised members to refuse being carried in trucks and start demanding decent transportation through the collective bargaining process at workplace level. In our submission we proposed to the government to have special provisions in the tender documents so that transport of workers is covered” added Jonas.
“The Metal and Allied Worker’s Union and the Construction Industries Federation have established a task force last year and the first meeting was held on 18 February 201. One of the main agenda points was the transportation of workers on trucks. Suggestions to address the issue were agreed upon, which include to meet with the Ministry of Works and other stake holders,” concluded Jonas.
Chief Inspector, Adam Eiseb, Divisional Head of the City of Windhoek Traffic Management Unit, said regarding municipal buses and Defence Force trucks, “The law is not applied selectively. All categories of vehicles are targeted. The municipality has gone an extra mile to deploy dedicated officers of the City Police to control municipal buses on a daily basis.The mandate of law enforcement agencies as part of the executive is clear, that of interpreting and enforcing the law. Failure to enforce the law would constitute an offence by such officer or institution. The employers have the capacity to ensure that their workers use appropriate transport.”