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‘We cannot afford taxi fare hike’

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

unaffordable: This commuter from Bloemanda complained that she would not be able to afford an increase in taxi fares as she was already short of money due to the Sassa grant chaos. Picture: Soraya Crowie

WHILE members of the various taxi associations in Kimberley were locked in meetings last night to discuss possible taxi fare increases following the recent fuel hike, commuters in the city indicated that they would be hard pressed to find additional cash to cover higher fares.

Commuters said yesterday that they were already feeling the financial pinch with the one-percent VAT increase.

“We are already paying a lot of money for basic foodstuffs. We can only afford the most necessary food items, like maize meal and oil . . . we cannot even afford a few luxuries to treat our children anymore. Where will get the extra R2 or R5 from if the taxi fares also go up now,” they asked.

A commuter from Bobo Se Plaas, Mary-Ann Seigelaar, said that she already only comes to town when it is absolutely necessary.

“I am a pensioner and only come to town twice a month. I pay R10 per trip. That means I spent R40 a month on transport. I only come to town to do my shopping. I have to make sure I buy everything because I cannot afford to make many trips in a month,” she said.

“With my pension I am only able to afford the basic things. If the taxi fare increases, I will only be able to afford to come to town once a month because I already do not have sufficient money for the two trips.”

Another commuter said that she will have to walk to town.

“I also stay in Bobo Se Plaas. If the taxi fares increase I will have no choice but to walk to town. The cost of living is already too high. Everything is going up – food, electricity and petrol – but the amount of money we earn remains the same. Taking a taxi somewhere will also soon be seen as a luxury and many people will have no option but to walk as it will be unaffordable.”

A Lerator Park mother, Junior Setlhodi, said that she was unemployed and dependent on her child’s social grant.

“My child’s grant is my only source of income. I am not employed and I spent the grant money on my child’s school fees and clothes. We can only buy the most basic foodstuffs. We sometimes cannot even afford to buy meat because it is too expensive. I only come to town for my grant payment so that I can buy the necessities,” said Setlhodi.

A local business owner, Renita Aiyer from the Curry Den, said that her business had to increase the prices of the food it sold.

“The petrol increase has had a spiral effect on everything. We had to increase the prices of food as the cost of the meat, the packaging we put the food in, the bread as well as the cost of electricity have increased. We had to introduce smaller meals for those customers who could not afford the new increased meal prices,” said Aiyer.

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

ANC national spokesperson Pule Mabe pointed out that the price of petrol was at its highest level ever and was “putting a squeeze on all aspects of life of fellow South Africans”.

The department of energy announced on Tuesday that the inland price for a litre of 95 unleaded petrol will be R16.02. The coastal price will be R15.43.

Mabe said that the fuel hikes impacted directly on the lives of the poor as food outlets pass on to the poor the rise in transport costs.

“The rate at which these costs increase is unbearable and we cannot turn a blind eye nor wish them away. We need to take strong action to arrest this situation.

“We accept that the rand depreciation is beyond our control and is fuelled largely by US trade wars, selling-off assets in emerging markets and portfolio outflows. We also accept that the fuel price increase is inevitable due to global crude oil prices increases.

“We, however, call on the US to consider the unintended consequences of its trade war and the ripple effects its imposition of sanctions on some oil producing countries have on the emerging economies.

“We also join the call on the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to help lower fuel prices by increasing oil production,” Mabe said.