“Only the poor man feels it,” said Langelihle Ndaba from Mfume, a village in Umgababa, KwaZulu-Natal. She is one of many South Africans feeling the pinch following the latest petrol price hike.
The department of energy announced petrol price increases of between 23 and 26 cents per litre from July 4, bringing the total cost for unleaded 95 petrol to more than R16 per litre. This translates into a fare increase of up to R2 for taxi commuters, GroundUp reports.
Chairperson of the South African National Taxi Council Boy Zondi said that the fare increases followed the latest petrol price hike.
Like millions of commuters in the country, Ndaba uses public transport to and from work daily. She works as a cashier in iSipingo where she earns R2 000 a month. She now pays up to R44 a day for taxi fares.
“I’ve been earning the same salary for two years now, but the cost of living continues to rise. I spend more money going to work than I get from actual work,” said Ndaba. This is only a slight exaggeration. If she works five days a week, her fares come to more than R940, almost half her salary.
“If I do not show up at work because I don’t have a taxi fare, my boss will hire someone else,” she said. “I have children who have matriculated but have never worked. I cannot afford to be unemployed because it means we’ll all suffer.”
National shutdown on the cards
Naledi Ngidi is a matric student at Umlazi Comtech and is currently attending holiday classes for extra tuition. The classes run six days a week, but Ngidi said she could only attend three because of the high fares.
Vincent Madlopha, who lives in Pelham, Pietermaritzburg, spends R820 per week getting to and from work in Durban. He said that because of the hefty taxi fares, he no longer sends money to his mother in Mpumalanga.
“The family depends on my financial assistance, but I cannot offer it because I’m working only to survive,” said Madlopha. “I can only pay for rent and transport with my salary… It makes escaping poverty so much harder because you continuously have to keep grinding and struggle to keep your family afloat.”
South African Federation of Trade Unions organiser in KwaZulu-Natal August Mbele, said the federation condemned the fuel increase and that a national shutdown was to be expected this month.
“Many South Africans work only to afford basic needs, a trend enforced by the apartheid government to oppress people,” said Mbele.
“Even after the democratic era was established, nothing has changed. This means that we must now take to the streets and show the government that we’ve had enough.” — GroundUp