By Foibe N Paavo
SWAKOPMUND, Erongo, 13 April – In the world we live, no job is easier than the other and if there’s any, each has its own obstacles. Each has its own separate journey, however a distant destination’s arrival takes longer without transport to boost it. That’s why we have cars, including taxis to transport us to our preferred destinations.
I had an opportunity to interview taxi drivers in Swakopmund to hear their opinions on the challenges they face daily since it’s a discussion I’ve noticed many taxi drivers having.
Thomas Naunyango, a 32-year-old taxi driver from Swakopmund’s story concerned me the most.
“I only work because I have no choice, I have kids at the North, my nieces and nephews that I need to support to continue with their studies,” said Thomas.
He has his own way of getting customers, like monthly school lifts for kids that he picks up every morning, and adults that he drops at their respective work places which makes his job so much easier. Although other taxi drivers wake up around 04h30, he starts work at 06h30, rests in the afternoon and then goes back around 18h00 to 19h00 because he believes it’s the best time for customers.
However, being a taxi driver is not an easy job as it comes with a lot of challenges.
“There was a time I picked up two people from Independence Street and dropped them off near to the truck port. As soon as I stopped, they jumped off without paying. I will never forget this incident,” he said.
“Sometimes we pick up thieves that take them where other robbers are. Deserted places where help would be too scarce to get. A month ago, a fellow driver was robbed off his car and robbers started robbing people with his vehicle. This is a very big risk to our lives. Sometimes we surrender our lives to God because one might never know what will happen next.”
Taxi drivers continue to complain that some customers don’t pay the full amount. However, the town has few people and a lack of customers remains the biggest challenge in Swakopmund.
“Life was good before Corona but now our blood is rising. You can transport one customer for such a long distance without getting any other heading to the same direction.”
The petrol price rise has also affected their daily hustle.
”Before, one could refill N$100 of petrol and earn it back but now it’s very difficult to earn even half of it, because the liters are few.”
He said they no longer worked to pay the owner of the taxi the agreed amount, but only for the sake of it and at the end of the day jobs were at risk. Because owners failed to understand that drivers struggled to make the required amount due to a lack of customers, or petrol refills to finish off to the next day.
Thomas advised the public and other taxi drivers: “If you’re suspicious of a customer, especially during the night, rather leave them behind.” – Namibia Daily News