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Taxi operators gear up to hike fares after the latest fuel price increase

Published Dec 3, 2021

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A taxi fare hike announcement is imminent after the fuel price increased to more than R20 a litre on Wednesday.

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The National Taxi Alliance (NTA) said its structures and associations were consulting on the inevitable fare hikes.

The price for both grades of petrol increased by 75c a litre on Wednesday, bringing the cost of 95 unleaded to R20.29 and 93 unleaded to R20.07.

Diesel went up by between 72c a litre for high-sulphur fuel and 74c a litre for low-sulphur diesel. Paraffin rose by 42c.

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NTA spokesperson Theo Malele said the taxi industry cannot absorb the recent fuel hikes.

“NTA understands and appreciates the undeniable fact that the minibus taxi industry mainly provides a transport service to the poorest of the poor, who cannot afford to spend more than 10% of their disposable income on transport.

“It pains us to accept the reality that the taxi industry cannot absorb the recent higher fuel hikes, or else we will be unable to continue providing the service or safety standards will be compromised due to affordability challenges brought by higher operational costs given that the price of fuel has an overarching influence on almost every commodity. Regrettably, our structures and associations are consulting on the inevitable fare hikes and announcements are imminent... Unless the government intervenes speedily,” he said .

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Malele said they believe that it was the responsibility of the government to assist its poor citizens to afford mobility through interventions such as public passenger transport subsidies and disaster grants.

“NTA has persistently called on government to stop its discriminatory practices on public passenger transport subsidies, where government continues to subsidise other modes of transport including new entrants while bizarrely leaving the taxi industry out, knowing it is the backbone of the economy and still suffers the residues of the apartheid transport system. We reiterate our position that the government must urgently assist taxi commuters by subsidising the taxi industry.

Malele said NTA was still awaiting a court judgment after litigating against government to make it impossible for the taxi industry to access the R1 billion Covid-19 relief funds pledged by government to assist the industry following the debilitating effects of the lockdown regulations.

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It has been more than a year now since the relief fund was announced. The sector was among the heavily affected by the outbreak of Covid-19 as operators were initially permitted to operate only at certain times and allowed 50% to 70% loading capacity.

DA Mineral Resources and Energy spokesperson Kelvin Mileham said: “At a time when the economy is struggling to recover from the impact of Covid-19 and millions of South Africans have lost their jobs, the Department’s bungling of the petrol price is reckless and indicative of a government that has lost its legitimacy in extricating South Africa from the economic crisis that it finds itself in.”

Mileham said what has become clear from this petrol price bungling is that government’s centralised determination of the petrol price is an archaic system which has, for years, been burdening consumers with exorbitant taxes.

“It explains why the government has resisted calls to deregulate the sector and allow the free market economy to set the price for petrol. Poor South Africans who rely on the public transport system should not be expected to spend a huge part of their income on transport costs. It is immoral and reprehensible,” he said.

In the beginning of November, petrol prices increased by R1.21, while diesel surged by R1.48.

A commuter, Rachel Hlabi, said the imminent taxi fare hike would add more burden on her shoulders.

“Already I am paying R50 to go to Johannesburg. We might end up paying close to R100 and government should be careful about this. We are getting tired,” said the 36-year-old.

A motorist, Henry Phungo, said: “This is too much. I never have a salary increase at work and I am struggling. Already we are paying too much for food and electricity. Life is becoming slowly expensive in this country.”

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