Petrol price surge adds fuel to the fire in minibus taxi sector
Pressure for subsidies as operators battle to stay afloat with extremely tight operating margins, writes Janine Stephen
The record petrol price — up to R17.08/l in Gauteng from R12.85/l in December 2016 — is squeezing minibus taxi operators and may contribute to an uptick in violence. Experts expect more calls for subsidies and support for the essential industry valued at R50bn, which transports 20-million passengers daily in more than 200,000 vehicles. It is struggling with extremely tight operating margins. SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) spokesperson Thabisho Molelekwa says petrol price increases from March have been “unprecedented” and followed VAT and fuel levy increases. Petrol in SA is now up to 30% more expensive than in other SADC countries, he says. Taxi fares have gone up, but in places where communities cannot afford to pay them taxi operators charge lower “compassionate fares”, which reduces their profitability. “The government needs to intervene to support the industry,” says Molelekwa. “It would be disastrous if industry was to find itself in a situation where it can no longer move ...