Picture: TSHEPO KEKANA
Picture: TSHEPO KEKANA

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) and other civil action groups will on Tuesday hand over a memorandum to the finance minister‚ calling for a reduced fuel levy.

This comes as taxi commuters brace for higher taxi fares.

The South African National Taxi Council (Santaco) has announced fare increases that will take effect on Wednesday.

It says it does not plan — for now — to be part of a strike over petrol prices, but will approach President Cyril Ramaphosa to discuss the effect of fuel prices on taxi operators.

Outa’s chief operating officer, Ben Theron‚ said Outa "is calling on all South Africans to join the movement to put pressure on government to reduce the price of fuel".

It is also seeking an independent inquiry into the Road Accident Fund (RAF), "which receives a portion (R1.93) paid to the fuel levy", but has "been marred by fruitless and wasteful expenditure".

Outa was seeking a cut in the fuel levy "as external factors like the oil price and the rand-dollar exchange rate can’t be controlled", he said.

This would be "a quick win for government as it is within their control and impacts the lives of all South Africans", Theron said.

Rudie Heyneke‚ Outa’s portfolio manager, said: "We understand that a R1 reduction in the fuel levy will impact Treasury’s income by approximately R23bn per annum‚ however, we also know that corruption and maladministration cost this country far more than this amount each year.

"By reducing the high fuel levies and tax burden on society‚ government will be forced to find the money through improved efficiency and reduced wasteful expenditure."

Fares rise

Minibus taxi body Santaco has announced taxi fare increases of between R1 and R10 for local trips, and between R1 and R20 for long-distance journeys, from August 1.

The fare hike was attributed to a sharp rise in the price of petrol and the recent fuel levy increase.

"For the January 2017 until January 2018 period alone the petrol price has increased 130%. There was a further fuel levy increase in 2018," Santaco said.

"Santaco has therefore decided the August 2018 increases will only be valid until June 2019‚ when they will be reviewed.

"Santaco regrets the impact of these increases on the commuters‚ especially the poor‚ but unless they are effected‚ many taxi operators will struggle to stay in business and consequently offer this much-needed service."

Santaco dismissed reports that the taxi industry would be part of a planned petrol-price strike to force the government to give some form of relief to motorists being squeezed by the rising cost of fuel.

"While the taxi industry feels the pinch of the petrol price‚ Santaco believes a taxi strike on petrol is not an option for now.

"Instead, Santaco wishes to meet with President Cyril Ramaphosa in order to find alternative ways of managing the pressure on taxis.

"This‚ however‚ does not take away considerations for Santaco to embark on a strike or any other action."