Despite a record increase in petrol prices, the South African National Taxi Association (Santaco) has given its assurance that when increasing taxi fares, it will take into consideration the burden posed on commuters by Covid-19.
“We foresee a part where taxi fares will increase,” Santaco spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa said.
“We also understand the reality that most of our commuters have lost jobs, while some of them have had their salaries reviewed as a result of Covid-19. Indeed, everybody is trying to make ends meet.
“At the time the leadership convenes for its annual review in June, all this will be taken into account to see how best to strike a balance.”
Santaco said that it was not planning to increase taxi fares until June.
While the petrol price increase kicked in on Wednesday, the 27 cents fuel levy announced by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in March also came into effect this month, raising fears of taxi fare and food price increases.
Molelekwa said the financial losses incurred by the industry during the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, along with current economic challenges, will determine how to price an increase in taxi fares.
“The leadership of Santaco will do the annual review in June this year where the determination of the taxi fare hikes will be made and the percentages at which they can be done.”
“The current petrol price increase comes at a time when the industry is still reeling from the impact of Covid-19.
“When Covid-19 started, the industry lost about R70 million a day and at a later stage when regulations were relaxed and revised, the losses went down. It fluctuated throughout the period of lockdown.”
Molelekwa said the recent Easter holidays was not as profitable as the industry expected.
“The long-distance operations did not make the revenues they anticipated. Long-distance travelers did not turn out in the numbers we expected given that last year this time there was no travel. We had about 38 percent of the usual numbers we would expect.”
He said this, coupled with the 70% loading capacity, was problematic.
Consequently, some operators are still struggling with the burden of debts acquired during lockdown.