Taxi commuters need to brace themselves for an increase in taxi fare prices, this after a petrol hike of R1.31 more per litre and electricity of over 9.4%.
Speaking to Khwebo Online, Chief Strategic Manager at the South African National Taxi Council (Santaco), Bafana Magagula says that “when crisis such as the main commodity, fuel and electricity go up, it affects our main tool to commute people. This not only means that commuters need to pay more money, but the cost in maintaining taxis and buying parts becomes expensive.”
The price hike in petrol and electricity will directly affect public transport commuters. Santaco understands that commuters may not afford another taxi fare increase, however, because they are not subsidised by the government, “we rely on commuters to pay for transport and bear with us when the taxi fare goes up,” Magagula says.
Energy hikes go deeper in the pocket of the operator as they too are providing a service. Santaco thus says that if taxi associations feel it is the appropriate time to increase the fare price, they may do so.
Magagula notes that Santaco and taxi associations have been empathetic to the needs of commuters. “We have tried to not go up each time the price of petrol goes up because we think of our commuters. For example, a taxi fare which was R8.00 five years ago is now only R11.00.”
“As Santaco we have discussed this issue to say that commuters must expect an increase and we appeal to taxi associations to give a seven – day notice before the taxi fare increases and put notices on their vehicles as well as local newspapers and stores,” Magagula says.
There is no set date of when the taxi fare is set to go up. Santaco’s Public Relations Officer, Midday Mali, says that should the decision be made to increase fares, the hike would be expected to happen between June and July.
Some taxi associations have expressed that they cannot increase the taxi fare because the communities in which they transport cannot afford to pay more.
Mali says that they are still deliberating on prices and “we are going to bring the matter down to the ground so that they can propose the percentages that they are looking at. These will differ from one route to another as there are local operations, regional operations as well as long-distance operations.”
Taxi associations are running their business at a serious loss. “Ten years ago the price to travel by taxi was a lot cheaper but has now gone up by 50%. The extra costs of increased fuel have amounted to a 25% increase in taxi fares in the past 5 years,” adds Magagula.
Mali concludes that they “are not just going to increase to make profit but the increase is to cover our costs that we are incurring in the business.”