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WATCH: National Shutdown - What South Africa can learn from other countries struggling with rising petrol prices, cost of living

Metro rail train 506 making its way to town from Langa. Picture Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

Metro rail train 506 making its way to town from Langa. Picture Henk Kruger/ANA/African News Agency

Published Jun 10, 2022

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Cape Town - Following the threat on social media that went viral of a national shutdown to take place over the rising petrol prices and cost of living, here’s what South Africa can learn from countries around the world on how to ease the hardship.

On Thursday, posters circulated social media calling on South Africans to down tools and express their disappointment with regard to the high petrol prices after locals were hit by another price increase to put Unleaded petrol at an all-time high of R23.42 per litre.

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However, the South African National Taxi Council swiftly distanced itself from the shutdown, saying it would be “business as usual”.

Meanwhile, across the borders in Europe, Germany and Ireland were the first to launch a transport scheme and cut public transport prices to alleviate the rising cost of living, which has hit many across the globe as the increase in food, petrol, and electricity is an issue not only South Africans are struggling with at the moment.

The German government announced a ‘9 for 90’ scheme which offers public transport tickets for R148,43 (€9) per month for 90 days which allows passengers unlimited local and regional travel around the country.

“We have prepared the autobahn as good as possible with additional trains and additional staff on the trains and railway stations,” said Achim Stauss from Deutsche Bahn.

In Ireland, Euronews reported that public transport prices were cut for the first time in more than 50 years as part of its plan to reduce the cost of living while also encouraging sustainable transport. Prices are set to drop by 20% for the rest of the year.

Italy has taken a similar approach and introduced a one-off public transport bonus where students and workers earning below a certain amount will receive a discounted fee.

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And, in terms of safety, while using the public transport systems due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Beijing has introduced a system that can read passenger ‘health codes’ as ticket gates can now read the travel card and health code simultaneously.

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According to South China Morning Post, all passengers on buses or subways in Beijing need to be tested for Covid-19, and proof of a negative result needs to be shown before boarding.

On June 6, around 10,476 commuters were denied entry as they did not have proof of a negative Covid-19 test.

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Furthermore, while South Africa’s transport system does not rank among the best in the world with the likes of Germany, China or Hong Kong, with its minibus taxi industry looked at as the heartbeat of the economy, South Africa could lean on these ideas to creatively assist the locals.

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