The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) says taxi fares for the month of April will not be increased following a record high petrol and diesel prices from 7th April of R1.00 and 89 cents, respectively.
On the other hand, the National Taxi Alliance (NTA) has indicated it could increase its fares but was keeping a close watch on further development on the issue during the course of this month.
This is not the first time that the country saw this all-time increase in both octane ’93 and ’95 petrol and diesel, respectively.
In 2019 then Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe announced that government would absorb most of the costs after an outcry from the public after the country saw what then looked like an unprecedented increase in petrol and diesel.
The price of both octane diesel and petrol ’95 and ’93 have increased by between Santaco a rand and fifty cents as well as sixty-three cents and sixty-five cents, respectively. The situation for all motorists is also compounded by the seventy-five cents fuel levy that has also come into effect this month.
Thabisho Molelekwa speaks Santaco. He says they have resolved not to impose any increase on taxi fares because of the unpredictable nature of global oil prices that could change anytime.
” Now we feel the impact of Covid-19 and suddenly now the increase of petrol. So, both these impacts weigh heavily on us as the industry and we can only increase the taxi fares probably in May,” said Molelekwa, adding that the industry has been losing R70-million a day since the hard lockdown began in March last year.
In a statement released on Tuesday, 6th April, just a day before the increase came into effect, the NTA said it would keep a keen interest in developments this month and would only relay necessary messages to all its structures, adding that the Covid-19 pandemic had made the situation even worse. Many taxi operators are forever living in fears of their vehicles that could be repossessed by financial lenders such as banks and other related institutions.
“Notwithstanding our understanding and appreciation of the similar dire economic conditions our commuters find themselves in, we regret to inform our commuters and the public in general that most of our taxi associations will be left without a choice but to adjust their fare structures in accordance with the impact of the fuel increase,” said Theo Malele, NTA national spokesperson in a well-prepared statement.
The NTA said this “unprecedented increase” in fuel was a harsh rude wake-up call for both the minibus taxi industry and government to quickly resolve the long outstanding issue of the subsidization of taxi commuters and before a large number of taxis got repossessed.
Last year, transport minister Fikile Mbalula promised that through his department government was determined to ensure that the subsidization and professionalization of the taxi industry be speeded up. Nothing has happened so far. The government had committed R3,5-billion in the taxi industry Covid-19 relief fund program but has not done so due to the stringent conditions attached to it.
“The NTA leadership will continue to advise its member structures and associations to be considerate to the plight of the passengers when increasing fares,” read the statement.
Meanwhile, in KwaZulu-Natal four people died in a horrific crash involving two vehicles on the R41 between Ulundi and Vryheid, bringing the total number of deaths in that province to 42 during the festive season.