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No taxi fare hit yet

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Commuters can breathe a sigh of relief

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TAXI commuters in Kimberley can breathe a sigh of relief, safe in the knowledge that a taxi fare increase is not on the cards yet.

The chairperson of the Kimberley Local Transport Association (KLTA), Thami Gabuza, said on Friday that the association had not met to discuss a possible increase.

“For now there is no discussion regarding an increase in the cost of taxi fares. We will first have to meet with the various associations and come to a decision on the matter,” said Gabuza.

“For now, we understand the plight of our commuters. The commuters are our bosses and we have to put their needs first. We understand that the fuel price has increased but the income of commuters has not. We will shoot ourselves in the foot if we up our fares as many commuters might not be able to afford to pay more. 

“We are compromising ourselves but we have to take the needs of our people into account as the cost of living is already too high for many.” 

Gabuza added that commuters would be given sufficient notification should an announcement be made regarding a possible increase.

“We usually make use of all media outlets to inform people about a possible price increase. We also put up notices to spread the message as widely as possible. This is not a decision that is taken overnight.” 

The chairperson of the Kimberley Transport Association, Shaun Wilkinson, said that although it has been many years since the last increase, they were willing to bear the brunt of the increase in the petrol price for cash-strapped residents.

“Usually an increase in fares is determined by an increase in the petrol price, however, it has been many years since we last had an increase. For now though we will not up our fares, despite the rising cost of petrol,” said Wilkinson.

“We are currently feeling the pinch as the increase has a ripple effect on everything. It is not only petrol that must be taken into consideration but also the price of tyres, which has also gone up. The cost of servicing our vehicles has also rocketed. We are, however, taking the punch for the sake of our commuters … although it is not easy. 

“Some drivers and owners are solely dependent on the income they get from the taxi industry. We also have families that we have to take care of and other basic necessities we need to provide for. The taxi industry is going through a tough time but this is a sacrifice we make for commuters,” added Wilkinson.

The Department of Energy announced last Tuesday that the inland price for a litre of 95 unleaded petrol will be R16.02. The coastal price is R15.43.

The ANC also called on government to increase petrol reserves and to consider freezing or decreasing the fuel levy.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Friday that government would announce a package of economic measures to cushion the public from the crippling effects of high fuel price hikes and the VAT increase.

Addressing business and government leaders in Pretoria ahead of the Brics Summit later this month, Ramaphosa said a panel made up of various stakeholders from the economic cluster had been tasked with drafting the package.

He said government had acknowledged that the people were reeling from the effects of fuel price increases, which he said was among other factors imposed by the depreciation of the rand.

“We will be announcing a package of measures to ease the burden of the price increase, this would include the finalisation of the VAT exempt products. I will ask the ministers in the economic cluster to finalise the package in a matter of two weeks,” he said.

Ramaphosa urged retailers and the transport sector to hold off price increases while the plan was being drafted. 

The poor in particular have been impacted severely by the rising cost of living. The price of fuel has been increasing steadily since April, following the increase in the fuel and RAF levies. The VAT hike from 14% to 15%, which came into effect in the same month, has pushed the cost of food and other items significantly higher.

Former minister of finance Malusi Gigaba announced the VAT increase during the budget speech in February. The increase was the first in over 24 years.