News from Technical Working Group

Regions: all
Modes: road
Topics: transport infrastructure, transport services, transport operations, public transport, road safety
Kind of Event: technical and management committee meetings

On May 31st, the first working group on public transport improvements in the four central northern regions took place at the Mazizi Lodge in Ongwediva. The working groups are one of the pillars of the Transport for People (T4P) Master Plan, developed by the project for the Ministry of Works and Transport of Namibia. Three main topics were discussed: Feasibility of a scheduled bus service in the project region, the use of motorbike taxis for rural transport, as well as a taxi call centre. 

 This meeting was gathering representatives of MWT, Regional Councils and Local Authorities as well as operators and project representatives. As a first topic, the idea and feasibility of scheduled bus service in the region was discussed. Based on the transport model prepared by the T4P project and supported by physical counting on main roads of the triangle Oshakati, Oshikango, Ondangwa, the feasibility study of a scheduled bus service between Oshakati and Ondangwa was considered as relevant by the participants. The bus operator would be, if the project is implemented, from the private sector. It should be selected after a competitive procedure, preferably a tender. The contract between the operator and the Transport Authority (meaning the public contractor) would be a Public Service contract or a concession type one. Some compensation, forecast in detail in the contract could be envisaged, for the fulfillment of Public Services Obligations (all day service-not only peak hours- week-ends, bus condition, time table etc) will be considered. All the important side effects were discussed (lay-bys for taxis, bus terminals and stops, taxis lanes and parking) and would be considered for planning if a scheduled bus service were to be implemented. 

 The second main topic was the public transport issue in remote rural areas. Even though there are so-called bakkies and some taxis operating in rural areas, the situation is far from satisfactory. Currently taxi services provide services along sealed roads. Some drivers will operate on urban gravel roads but at a premium fare. New ideas were received and the project put forward notably the success story of motorbikes in numerous countries in South East Asia, Africa and Central America. The motorbike taxi industry was in these cases profitable for the investor/operator and allowed the remote areas to put an end to their isolation leading to more access for people living in rural areas. In Tanzania, motorcycle numbers increased from about 2,000 in 2003 to over 800,000 in 2014, mainly for public transport purposes.However, safety issues were of serious concern for the participants of this meesing. Though, this is an efficient way of opening up access for isolated communities, it is known to be unsafe and requires strong regulation, penalties and enforcement to mitigate the safety issue.  Another topic aiming at diminishing the isolation of communities living in remote areas was to allow a taxi company to set-up a call centre operating on–demand, including on gravel roads, for a premium price, to be regulated by the MWT.Further discussions are expected on these proposals. Ideas and comments are highly appreciated. Please contact us via Twitter, Facebook or just comment below.