Santaco taxi fare hikes a bitter pill for struggling commuters
On their Twitter page, Santaco said the increase for KZN would be 20%, but Santaco KZN manager Sifiso Shangase said they had left it up to each region to decide their own fare increases.
The increase was not related to the impact of the coronavirus and resulting restrictions on the industry, he said, adding fares had been raised in July for the past four years.
He also tackled the issue of taxis being loaded to 100% capacity in defiance of the lockdown regulations that stipulate taxis can only carry passengers to 70% of capacity. “The public does not have a problem with the 100%,” he said.
Ntuzuma resident Ntombi Majola was unhappy with the fare increase, saying they were told last year, when fares increased by R2, that there would not be an increase this year.
“But all of a sudden, this week we see taxi posters saying that on July 13 fares go up by R2. It’s not fair, especially for people who are not working and who are struggling during this time of coronavirus,” she said.
Greater North Taxi Association secretary Themba Kubheka said the increase would be between R1 and R2 and that the taxi industry had also been hit hard by Covid-19.
The organisation incorporates 28 associations from areas including KwaMashu, Phoenix and Ntuzuma.
Kubheka said the increase would be R2 for people travelling to the Durban CBD, which means they would now pay R21, and there was a R1 increase for local journeys within areas where fares varied according to the distance. He said the increase would be effective from July 13.
Chatsworth Taxi Association spokesperson Bashir Ismail said they would increase fares by R1, taking journeys within Chatsworth to R12, and to the CBD from R17 to R18. He said this was the first time in two years that they had increased fares. They had tried to keep increases to a minimum over the past 15 years to lessen the impact on commuters.
Ismail said the small increase was to the owners’ detriment as the petrol price had gone up yesterday by more than R1 a litre.
Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity Group researcher Julie Smith said she sympathised with the taxi industry because it had been “put in a corner”.
“I feel for the taxi industry as they are stuck between a rock and a hard place,” she said.
Smith said any increase would be hard on workers. “Workers can’t afford any more increases and that is the reality. Any increase is going to hurt them.”
More increases would force people to cut back on other expenses, like food, she said.