Home Opinion and Features Fuel price hike expected to have devastating implications for struggling poor

Fuel price hike expected to have devastating implications for struggling poor

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Social Justice Coalition Programme manager Ntebaleng Morake said the fuel hikes affect major sectors of society and this affects everyone, particularly poor and working-class people.

File picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency (ANA)

WHILE fuel price increases were less than expected after the National Treasury decided to grant an extension of the reduction in the general fuel levy, concerns remain that these hikes adversely affect ordinary people already struggling.

The Minister of Finance and the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy jointly announced a temporary reduction in the general fuel levy of R1.50 per litre from Wednesday, June 1 until July 6.

The price of 95-octane unleaded petrol would increase by R2.33 a litre while 93-octane unleaded petrol would be R2.43 more. Diesel prices would go up by R1.07 per litre, while illuminating paraffin would be R1.56 more.

Social Justice Coalition Programme manager Ntebaleng Morake said the fuel hikes, directly and indirectly, affect major sectors of society and this affects everyone, particularly poor and working-class people whom she said were already economically marginalised.

“The fuel hikes affect the prices of daily essentials and in a country where inequality is engraved in the social fabric of our society, we risk deepening inequality and poverty.

“This has several consequences on our country’s democracy. Moreover, for people in informal settlements, many of whom are located on the periphery and far away from places of employment due to the legacy of spatial apartheid planning, fuel hikes also mean that job-seeking becomes even harder and more expensive.”

A Community Action Network co-ordinator, Joanie Fredericks, said these hikes would impact ordinary people, making it difficult for employed people who need to travel.

Fredericks said transport service providers would increase their prices and this would leave people with less buying power for essentials.

Fredericks said donors and sponsors were already hard-pressed to continue supporting feeding schemes and the price hike would cause them to make crucial decisions on their ability to provide support.

“Most feeding schemes are forced to collect donations big and small ourselves because we simply need any support we can get. The fuel hike will prevent many from collecting donations. Feeding schemes will close with a direct negative effect on the community,” she said.

SA National Zakah Fund (SANZAF) regional manager Shafiek Barendse said more families would be unable to put food on the table and that they were expecting more people to make use of feeding schemes.

Barendse said before the pandemic the organisation made around 1,800 food distributions per month, however, this increased to 2,500 during the first month of the lockdown. He said this number had also gone up to 3,500 distributions with 225,000 meals provided per month.

Barendse said they also noticed that there was an increase in children now coming to their feeding schemes as schools are closed during the weekend.

However, the Golden Arrow Bus Services said it has decided not to increase fares to provide passengers with some small sense of relief amidst all of the price increases people are facing.

General manager Derick Meyer said diesel was the company’s single biggest expense item other than wages and price hikes placed severe pressure on its operating margins. Meyer said fares increases would never be implemented unless completely unavoidable.

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