PSA calls for transport allowances as taxi fares are set to soar
Johannesburg - The Public Servants Association (PSA), one of the largest trade unions in the civil service, said on Tuesday it was worried by impending steep taxi fare increases which operators say are unavoidable due to Covid-19 restrictions.
In a statement, the PSA said public servants at the forefront in the fight against the health pandemic were already struggling to make ends meet after the government went back on implementing previously agreed salary increases in April, citing budget constraints.
Public taxi operators are set to raise fares by as much as 172 percent from mid-June, saying they are struggling to remain viable in the wake of government restrictions aimed at curbing coronavirus transmissions, such as slashing the number of passengers each vehicle can carry.
The restrictions have been in place since the government imposed a nationwide Covid-19 lockdown in late March, although some have since been relaxed.
The PSA said the escalating rise in the price of necessities like food and electricity had already taken its toll on public servants and the country at large.
"To make matters worse, the recent increase in the price of petrol and Gauteng freeway etolls has also made matters extremely difficult for employees to utilise their personal transport to commute to work, with the majority relying on taxis as a mode of transport," it said.
The association said it would call an urgent special meeting of the public sector bargaining council to table an urgent demand that the state provide all critical workers on duty during the lockdown with an interim transport allowance.
"The transport allowance should be in place until taxi fares are normalised or government has intervened," the PSA said.
"Exorbitant transport costs will likely see a majority of public servants, unable to afford daily taxi fees to get to work, thereby posing a serious challenge in the response to the fight against the pandemic."
It urged the transport ministry to seriously engage the taxi industry on the looming fares hikes, which it said would "surely become totally un-affordable to workers and the public at large".
- African News Agency (ANA), Editing by Stella Mapenzauswa