By Masilo Malakwane
QWAQWA – The United Taxi Association in Qwa Qwa (Qwauta) has announced a fare hike of between R2 and R5 that will come into effect on April 1.
Association chairperson, Matshediso Nteo, said the recent rises in petrol prices have hit hard on both the business and transport sectors.
Nteo told The Guard “as of April, commuters will have to pay R16 to ride from Setsing plaza to their local destinations and an extra R5.00 to travel beyond the borders of QwaQwa to places like Harrismith, Kestell and Bethlehem.”
She explained that the association cannot blame the record-high increase of fuel prices alone for the taxi fare hikes, but revealed that it is within their rights to increase travel fares once annually.
“We usually increase prices once a year but due to due to the Covid-19 pandemic which took everybody by surprise, the association had discussions last year and decided otherwise. But this year we then agreed to forge ahead with the increase.”
However, the news of the fare hike has been greeted with mixed feelings. Already burdened commuters dismissed the plans to increase fares as too soon because they can barely afford current fares due to the rising cost of living brought about by the high rate of unemployment.
One of them, Marriam Mokhethi who is a regular traveller between QwaQwa and Bethlehem, says low-income-earners are the ones who will feel the worst pinch.
“They should have given us enough time. Of course we understand that fuel prices have gone up but the salaries are still the same and most people are without jobs due to Covid-19.”
Petrus Teboho, a taxi owner, said although the latest hike would place more strain on commuters, it is a welcome relief to owners like him who were already struggling to sustain their businesses due partly to the poor state of Maluti-a-Phofung roads.
“There was no choice but to go ahead with the increase, although it’s a bitter pill to swallow for our passengers.”