The opposition party leader McHenry Venaani said that all national development plans from Vision 2030 to the recently launched National Development Plan 5 (NDP5) have no core focus on improvement of affordability, accessibility and efﬁciency of public transport to students and the general public at large.
A simple glance at the developed and the developing world will quickly reveal that one of the biggest disparities between the developing and developed nations is the affordability, accessibility and efﬁciency of public transport, Venaani reiterated in a motivation statement of subsidization of transportation for students attending tertiary institutions in Parliament this week.
“There is no emphasis on these aspects of public transports as it relates to students at tertiary institutions, without whom it will be impossible to move towards the knowledge – based industrialization society we wish to become. There is certainly no doubt that the public transport sect is the most critical driver of socio economic transformation” He said.
He further noted that the level of development and the potential for success for any given country is almost directly proportional to the standard of transport infrastructure and cost of transportation, particularly public sector, which is the one used by majority of the population who don’t have private vehicles.
The Villager learnt that when public transport is either not easily accessible or is unaffordable it results in the urban poor being unable to access critical economic value chains and these motion speciﬁcally looks at how these problems affects students at tertiary institution and the proposes the means of alleviating the problems faced by students when it come to the affordability of public transport Venaani argued that in Windhoek where the vast majority of tertiary students are located most people uses taxis to commute from home to campus.
And it is a common cause that the cost of a one – way fare from one location to the next is normally N$10 but not for University of Namibia students (UNAM), that resides elsewhere. “From many areas the cost is N$20 and not N$ 10. The result is that the average UNAM student has to spend N$30 per day to commute from home to campus. Now N$30 may not sound like a lot, but when you factor in that this has to be done every week day and sometimes on weekends for roughly 10 months of the year then you begin to realise the severity of the problem. If we accept that the average student has to attend classes 22 days a month for 10 months than the average student will spend N$6 600 per annum on transportation,” he said.
He added that the direct consequences of this are that the population group who are being indirectly priced out of education is the group that needs it the most and in this case the urban poor. However, Venaani proposed that in collaboration with Taxi Associations, City of Windhoek NANSO; NUST and UNAM, that the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Human Resource and Community Development launch a joint research programme to device mechanisms that will enable such a subsidy to both impactful and efﬁcient.
“The study should reveal whether a subsidized ticketing system, with special tickets or even takes for the university students will be the best course of action or alternatively, it could be that lump cash sums at the begging of each semester would be easier to administer,” he added.
He further stated that the study must also reveal what percentage subsidy will make a genuine difference in the lives of students and enable them to become and develop into the generation that can drive this country.