Incidences of unruly behaviour by long distance bus drivers and their lackeys to use violence to coerce passengers to board their vehicles remains unabated at loading zones in parts of northern Namibia.
While the concern has been raised many a times, the practices of luggage grabbing and passenger assault are just not fading away but in fact are intensifying to the detriment of the customers.
On Monday last week a female passenger was allegedly lifted up and held by the neck and on the legs, while her luggage where whisked away in all directions by bus drivers, all fighting to have her sit in their buses.
This incident drew the attention of bystanders who felt sorry for the way in which the woman was being humiliated.
Martin Iikwa, a concerned member of the community who alerted The Villager about the incident, said that he had to get out of his car to intervene for the woman to be released.
‘’It was a terrible scene. How can you do that to someone and expect them to sit in your bus peacefully after you have subjected them to such shame and humiliation? Those people literally grabbed the woman’s neck. She was in bad shape. I couldn’t just pass by and continue driving to see such things happening. We intervened and told them along with other bystanders to let her go or otherwise we would handle the matter ourselves. When they realised how serious we were they let her go,’’ said Iikwa.
‘’We need to have police enforcements at these loading points to bring order because the situation cannot continue this way. People are losing their bags and properties through such practises. These people don’t care. They are using intense force,’’ he adds.
Another bystander Jorama Elifas, who works as a petrol attended at Shell Ondangwa, a popular loading zone also feels that police presence needs to be felt at bus loading zones.
“Bus drivers and the people that hustle to get the customers are out of hand. What they do is a criminal offense. People’s bags are torn apart; people are being pulled in all directions physically. What is this we are allowing in this country? Our women are assaulted before they enter the buses,” said Elifas.
He narrated a recent incident saying: “Just the other day a man dropped off his wife to get a bus to Windhoek. When he left, the woman was assaulted the same way. They just came from all directions and each one picked up her bags. The woman called her husband to return and help her but when the husband returned even he was physically assaulted and beaten by those guys.’’
The Police Commander for the Oshana region, Commissioner Rauha Amwele, said her office is aware of the assaults that many passengers encounter whenever they are to travel.
She, however, said the police can only get involved when specific cases are reported to them or in cases when police who are on patrol encounter such an incident.
‘’This whole thing lies with the bus and taxi associations who are not cooperating so that they can discipline their members and restore order at loading zones. Most of those people assaulting passengers are well-known criminals who are used to get customers for bus drivers so that they can get some money in return,” Amwele said.
She stressed that, “the police will only react when they receive reports of such incidences. I therefore would advise that those who find themselves in such situations report the incident and open cases with the police. They should take down the number plates of such buses. Only then can we act to have the culprits arrested to be persecuted. If there are no cases reported those people will just continue acting in such a way because they know nothing will be done to them.”