Tansnat’s 7.7% bus fare increase will hit the poor hard
DURBAN bus commuters can expect a 7.7% increase in bus fare from the beginning of next month.
The increase comes as a result of an application by Tansnat where it requested an increase in February this year. In a letter to the eThekwini Transport Authority, Tansnat said: “We humbly request that the eThekwini Transport Authority proceed with its submission to Exco to get the 7.7% fare increase approved.”
The news of the increase which was supposed to go into effect on May 1, left opposition parties and civil society organisations fuming as they argued that this increase would hit poor people hard.
At an executive council meeting on Tuesday, a report into the fare increase was tabled. Deputy City Manager for Human Settlements, engineering and Transport Authority, Beryl Khanyile said she was aware that the timing of the increase was not ideal and said that they were bound by agreements with Tansnat. She said there was an increase in the availability of buses, but the challenge was that people were now working remotely.
Khanyile said eThekwini was not recouping enough money from the bus service as the subsidy provided by the provincial transport department and the money it provided were not enough and the municipality was operating at a loss when it came to the bus entity.
It has been reported that the bus operator owed the eThekwini municipality more than R650 million. The animosity between the two reached a point where the municipality acceded to the fact that it might never recoup the money.
The Daily News reported in October last year that Tansnat complained about how eThekwini Municipality was not providing it with the required amount of buses for it to carry out its service effectively. This led to the Tansnat being seen as an unfit operator.
DA caucus leader Nicole Graham said she found it hard to accept that the poorest people in the municipality were being forced to pay more. She said there was no political will to resolve the impasse between Tansnat and eThekwini municipality.
She said poor people who come from far flung areas were being failed for a bus service that was virtually non-existent.
“People lose hope. People who use the service are the most vulnerable,” Graham said. She said Tansnat already owed more than R650 million. She questioned why fares were being increased when the money received was not being used for what it was meant for.
IFP councillor Mdu Nkosi said he was taking the matter back to his caucus to discuss it. He said many poor people have been hard hit by Covid-19. He noted that the increase was lower than the last one that happened in 2019 which was 8.8%. But he could not in good conscience support or go against the increase as there was not even a report that said how the economy of eThekwini was doing better.
Nkosi said he hoped the conflict between Tansnat and eThekwini came to an end as it was hard to determine who was right as both sides have accused each other of foul play.
Ubunye Bamahostela chairperson Vusi Zweni, said: “It is amazing. Despite that there are retrenchments across the country that everybody is aware of and the fact that the government could not give an increase to its workers it is a big no from us. The working class cannot afford it.” Zweni said this looked like it was something that was not well thought out and was a war against the working class.