- Commuters are unhappy that taxi fare prices are expected to increase.
- Taxi drivers believe the increases are fair, considering that fuel prices have escalated.
- The NTA said taxi fare prices would increase between 25% to 30%.
“The increase in taxi fares is making it hard for us, we can’t afford it. We are looking for jobs and we have to use taxis to attend these interviews… it’s a lot and it’s not fair.”
These were the words of a young woman returning from a job interview in Randburg.
On Thursday morning, News24 went to the Randburg Taxi Rank to speak to commuters and taxi drivers about the looming increase in taxi fares.
While the early morning rush hour to get to work had passed, commuters were still returning from early morning commitments or shopping.
The increase in taxi fares has left people feeling overwhelmed.
Bulelwa, who did not disclose her surname, said a taxi from Bree Street Downtown, Johannesburg, to Greenvillage, Johannesburg, was now R25, which was a drastic increase from R18.
She said it was money she just did not have.
“We are looking for jobs and going out to interviews… we can’t just sit back and say we can’t go to town because a taxi is expensive. We have no choice, but to pay,” she said.
“It is affecting us… We are young people, looking for jobs, and we have to get jobs. If we don’t, what are we gonna do? Sit at home?”
A few commuters, who preferred to remain anonymous, voiced their concerns about the increase in taxi fares.
One of the commuters said:
A commuter said that, while prices, including taxi fares, were rising, their salaries were either decreasing or remaining constant.
“If I earn R500 a month, most of that goes to taxi fare, and I end up working for R100,” the commuter said.
Taxi drivers, though, said the increase was fair, considering that the cost of living was escalating and petrol prices were sky-rocketing.
One taxi driver, who chose to remain anonymous, said: “We only increase our prices once a year, but petrol goes up every now and then. One minute it goes down by 50c, and the next it goes up by R2, clearly this is a money game,” the taxi driver said.
Phakamani Phakhathi, a taxi driver, said the prices from Randburg to Bree remained at R15, but would soon increase. He said food and vehicle maintenance, in conjunction with petrol having doubled in price, put them at a considerable disadvantage.
Taking its toll
The spokesperson for the National Taxi Alliance (NTA), Theo Malele, confirmed that fares would increase by between 25% and 30%.
“The taxi industry has been impacted immensely. With the fuel prices continuously increasing, we had been trying to absorb the blow up to a point, but could no longer handle it anymore.
“As a community-based business, we have looked at the best way possible out, and that was to make an increase of between 25% and 30%,” said Malele.
He added that taxi associations would determine what margin increase they would effect in their respective operations.
On Wednesday, motorists faced a significant increase in fuel price after the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy announced that the price of petrol would rise by between R2.37 and R2.57, while diesel would rise by at least R2.30.
Malele said the fuel price increase had taken a toll on taxi operators, who were beginning to lose their vehicles due to their inability to meet their monthly financial obligations.
“Once they repossess a vehicle, which the driver and their extended family was reliant on, they lose employment and income,” he said.
The spokesperson for the South African National Taxi Council, Graham Fritz, said: “The association has not increased its fare prices for the last four to five years. With inflation, petrol and all the other commodities interlinked with the association, we have since taken the decision to increase the fares.”