Durban – SOUTH Africans will find themselves paying more money to drive, buy food, and use electricity, as toll gates, fuel and electricity costs are due to increase in the next few weeks.
The increases have left various organisations arguing this could be too much for cash strapped South Africans to afford.
On Monday toll gate fees are set to increase. This means people who use the Marianhill Toll Plaza and are travelling in light vehicles will have to pay R13, while people in vehicles with a double axle will pay R23, among other increases.
Fuel increases are expected later this week. The Automobile Association last Friday said it expected a 66 cents per litre increase in petrol and 57 cents increase in diesel.
"Until oil supply and demand settle into stability, more hikes are likely. And, we cannot forget that April will already start with a significant addition of 26 cents a litre to fuel prices because of increases to the General Fuel and Road Accident Fund levies – inflicting further blows to already battered South African consumers," the organisation said.
KwaZulu-Natal manager of the South African National Taxi Council Sifiso Shangase said it was hard to run a taxi operating business with the increases coming into effect as there were limits to the amount of financial pressure people could take.
He said they were already limited by the number of people they could load in a taxi for long distance trips. Shangase said even though they had discounts on long distance trips they were still struggling and they would have to decide what this meant for fares. “With the way things were and challenging conditions in the industry, I would not encourage someone to join it.”
Pietermaritzburg Economic Justice and Dignity group’s programme co-ordinator Mervyn Abrahams said the increase in fuel costs would be felt throughout the economy. He said the cost of fuel had an effect on food and transport.
“With electricity also expected to go up by 15% most South African households would be poorer by the end of the year,” Abrahams said. “What made things worse was that for people on social grants, the below inflation increase in social grants, announced by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni, meant that households were poorer now than they were last year. Last week’s budget was the worst since the dawn of democracy in South Africa.”
Justice Project South Africa’s chairperson Howard Dembovsky said: “It (the increases) hurts every year.” He said it was worse as some people had lost their jobs and for some people it could be too much.