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By Zanele Mbengo

Journalist


Taxi fare hike looms over fuel increase

With fuel prices climbing, South African taxi drivers face tough decisions on fare adjustments for commuters


Taxi operators, along with the rest of South Africa, are staring down the barrel of yet another fuel increase in April.

This follows a statement by Automobile Association (AA) referring to preliminary data from the Central Energy Fund (CEF) showing South Africans can anticipate a minor uptick in petrol prices of about 10c.

Operators even more out of pocket

According to South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) national spokesperson Rebecca Phala, another increase would mean operators will be even more out of pocket.

“It also means they have to look at ways in which they do things, inclusive of the trips they take, how often they do it and how the drivers drive,” Phala said.

“As a council, we are guided by the Santaco fuel price index, which guides that taxi association should expect an increase in terms of fare prices at least once in a year.”

ALSO READ: Motorists told to brace for steep fuel price increase in March

A taxi driver from Orange Farm, Thabiso Ntombela, said it becomes financially difficult for drivers to keep up when fuel prices go up, especially drivers in townships.

“At times when fuel process increase, we can’t just decide to increase prices for our customers because we need to make sure the fare prices are fair and affordable for them,” Ntombela said.

“The last time we increased prices here was two years ago from R10 to R12. A week can go by without me generating profit so even that 10 cents is a lot for me,” he added.

Most of salary spent on transport

A commuter, Zukiswa Ndlela, said she spent her salary mostly on transport.

“Petrol prices are always going up and we can’t blame our drivers when they increase prices because they are also at work.

ALSO READ: Cheer over as AA forecasts fuel price increase for February

“I basically work for transport fare. I use three taxis to get to work every day,” Ndlela said.

“At least, though, it’s a 10 cent increase but I hope it doesn’t go up because then we will feel it deep in our pockets.”

The AA predicted a slight decrease in diesel and illuminating paraffin prices.

It said, while the year did not get off to on good note for all grades of fuel, any form of relief for consumers was welcome, especially going into the Easter holidays.

Not much in context of previous increases

AA spokesperson Layton Beard said 10 cents was not much in the context of the previous increases.

ALSO READ: September petrol price hike likely to be highest since July last year

It would have an impact on some budgets, though.

He said: “This is the middle of the month. These amounts may change before the end of the month. They may come down further.

“The fact that diesel is coming down is good news because it means transport companies who use diesel won’t have higher input costs.”

According to the latest numbers from the CEF, ULP95 petrol is expected to go up by about 10 cents per litre and ULP93 by about nine cents per litre.

Diesel prices are predicted to fall by 34 to 38 cents per litre, while illuminating paraffin prices are set to decrease by about 47 cents per litre.

ALSO READ: How to increase fuel efficiency when fuel prices rise in September

Positive implications

The AA highlighted the positive implications of reduced diesel and paraffin prices, particularly for key sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing and retail, where diesel is a significant input cost.

It also suggested if the current downward trend in the rand/dollar exchange rate and international product prices continued, there was a possibility of a notable reduction in under-recovery by the time the department of mineral resources and energy finalised the adjustments for next month.