Taxi fare puts a strain on commuters

Taxi commuters are feeling the pinch after Monday’s one rand increase. This is a knock on effect of the increased fuel price and a number of residents who use taxis on a daily basis said they have no idea how they are going to manage.
Copesville resident, Yas Mahommed, 25, said his salary did not increase when everything else did.
“The increase will definitely put a dent in the pockets of those who earn a minimum wage. Life is becoming financially unbearable with all these added increases,” he said.
Mrs S Govender, a 62-year-old pensioner from Belfort, said despite a R90 increase in her old age pension, the money she receives on a monthly basis is no longer sufficient to sustain her.
“I live alone and I am renting. I get some assistance from my daughter but it is difficult for her as well since she has a family and bills of her own. I take a taxi to collect my grant and also to the hospital for my monthly check-up and medication. Now just these two trips will cost me R40,” she said.
Another commuter who wished to remain anonymous takes two taxis every evening to get to Copesville.
“I am an intern and I take one taxi from the New Rank and another in Raisethorpe to get home. It currently costs me R558 to travel to work in the mornings. Now it will cost me R620 a month to go to work. Although I don’t have a family or utilities to pay I still have other commitments. This increase will definitely make it a bit more difficult for me as I depend on public transport,” she said.
Sifiso Shangase, SANTACO provincial office manager said fares were supposed to increase in all areas throughout KZN and Pietermaritzburg on July 1 but due to various stakeholders, especially concerned commuters, it took a little longer for fares to increase in certain areas.
“We had to engage with various community structures as well as taxi owners and commuters. The pinch of rising costs is being felt by everyone in the industry. While we feel for our commuters we also have to consider taxi owners who are facing continuous fuel price hikes, vehicle maintenance and those who are still paying for the taxi itself. Some owners have also had their vehicles repossessed. Unfortunately it is a bleak situation for everyone in which there are no winners,” said Shangase.
Mbulelwa Ntshiza, a taxi owner said while it is sad that commuters were faced with an increase, taxi owners were also taking a knock financially.
“Continued fuel hikes, the price of spares to maintain a taxi in roadworthy condition, and the prices of new taxis are some of the challenges we are facing. Striking workers also pose a threat as some taxi owners have had their vehicles burnt or badly damaged by angry protesters. Some taxi owners who can no longer maintain the cost of running their taxis are forced to sell them and find other means of earning a living. We pay R16 000 a month for a new Quantum and we make R800 a day,” said Ntshiza another taxi owner.
Rusty Chedie another taxi owner said with the high rate of unemployment and continuous rise in the cost of living, I understand the frustration commuters are facing. “It is getting harder to put a loaf of bread on the table nowadays and everyone is affected. With the ever rising fuel price taxi owners are taking a tremendous knock. Maintaining a good roadworthy vehicle is important in this industry as commuters safety is of paramount importance but it doesn’t come cheap as the prices of spares have also gone up. Also the increase in unemployment means the number of people using the taxi service is also affected.”

  AUTHOR
Keroshini Paltu

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