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NamPost drivers sue about speed limit

Five long-distance drivers employed by the state-owned Namibia Post (NamPost) are now suing their employer, claiming NamPost managers have ordered them to break the legal speed limit on the roads they use to carry out their work.

A lawyer representing NamPost and four of the company’s managers yesterday gave notice that the national postal service and the four employees intend to oppose an application the five drivers filed at the Windhoek High Court at the end of last week.

According to the drivers – Kondjeni Haikela, Simson Kambangula, Leonhard Iipinge, Sandriek Skrywer and Toney Humbilemo – their supervisors at NamPost ordered them not to adhere to the speed limit of 80km/h applying to the long-distance delivery lorries they drive, and have directed them to instead drive at a speed of 115km/h.

They are asking the court to declare that the alleged orders that they should drive a minimum speed of 80km/h with vehicles restricted by law to be driven at a speed of no more than 80km/h is unlawful.

They are also asking the court to restrain NamPost and their supervisors from coercing them to drive at a minimum speed of 80km/h, instead of adhering to a maximum speed of 80 km/h.

In addition to those orders, the drivers want the court to direct NamPost and their supervisors to stop an alleged practice of adjusting speed-limiting devices on the delivery lorries they use to enable the vehicle to exceed a speed of 80km/h.

Haikela says in an affidavit filed at the court that Namibia’s Road Traffic and Transport Act stipulates a maximum speed limit of 80km/h for the delivery vehicles they drive. However, he claims NamPost managers verbally instructed drivers to disregard the law and drive at a speed higher than the speed limit stipulated by law in 2018.

A NamPost manager for labour relations responded to those verbal instructions by requesting the drivers in writing in October 2018 to drive NamPost vehicles within the legal speed limit, Haikela says in his affidavit.

He says his and fellow drivers’ supervisors have persisted with instructions to drivers to keep to a speed of 115km/h, instead of 80km/h.

Haikela says he and other drivers were called to a meeting about the alleged delayed arrival of cargo in November last year.

After the meeting, the drivers received notices in which they were informed they were being suspended for deliberately delaying the delivery of cargo they transported.

In January this year, Haikela also says, he, Kambangula, Skrywer, and Humbilemo were notified that they had to attend disciplinary hearings on charges of sabotage, with NamPost accusing them of having used go-slow techniques by driving below the prescribed speed limit of 80km/h and causing a delay in the delivery of cargo as a result. He is further alleging that NamPost “is willing to break the law” and risk long-distance drivers’ lives to satisfy its customers.

NamPost spokesperson Gladwin Groenewaldt yesterday said since the case filed by the drivers is now in the hands of the court, NamPost cannot comment on the matter at this stage.