February 2, 2011

Minister wants taxis regulated

The Minister of Works and Transport, Erkki Nghimtina, says he wants a progress report on the taxi industry by the second quarter of the year. Describing what is now known as the taxi wars that broke out on the streets of Windhoek and elsewhere in the country the week before, Nghimtina said the incidents of violence and mayhem that ensued were an avoidable embarrassment for the country. At the official opening of the ministry's work year, Nghimtina said a database of all taxi operators should be established to capture the number of taxi operators, their locations, and all other relevant information to the industry. "The public transport industry needs to be regulated to ensure that it serves the people of Namibia to their satisfaction," he said, adding that more policy provisions must be implemented to avoid the recurrence of what very nearly escalated into a riot. Addressing about 100 of the staff at the ministry, Nghimtina stressed the importance of value for money, customer care, teamwork and equity.

In 2010, the ministry developed an instrument to monitor reform of the transport department that was first proposed by Cabinet in 2005, which saw the establishment of the Roads Authority (RA), the Roads Contractor Company (RCC), and the Road Fund Administration (RFA). Notwithstanding the signing of performance and governance agreements with these State-owned enterprises (SOEs), Nghimtina said there are still concerns over the monitoring and evaluation of the enterprises. He added that the proposed new structure of the transport sector was never fully implemented despite dedicated efforts and large investments in the necessary consultations.

In aviation, N$22 million has been spent on the establishment of the Namibia Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the implementation of air safety measures. To deal with skills shortages in the meteorological services, the ministry has sent more than six students to Nairobi, Kenya, to train for the next two years, and encouraged staff to pursue courses in this field. The Department of Works has completed a decentralisation process in the maintenance of Government buildings. This year, ministries will be expected to develop their own maintenance policies to account for Government property under their care. Three-quarters of Government houses have been sold off to tenants but Government is still in possession of houses assigned to line ministries. Nghimtina said civil servants should refrain from forwarding requests for official accommodation. The ministry will retain blocks of flats to accommodate staff transferred from regions and experts recruited from abroad only. Nghimtina said the delay in the implementation of capital projects is hampered by a shortage of professional personnel like engineers, architects and quantity surveyors. (The Namibian)

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