Lift club halves her fuel bill

2012-05-09 00:00

THE spate of petrol price hikes has been a blessing in disguise for Princess Ngubo, who commutes between Pietermaritzburg and Durban every day.

Back in March, when she realised driving the N3 solo would be more than her pocket would permit, she decided to start a lift club.

Now, as others work out how to adapt to last week’s 28 cents per litre price hike, she’s grateful she was ahead of the game.

“I used to spend R2 500 a week on petrol when I was travelling alone, but now I spend less than a R1 000,” Ngubo told The Witness.

“I approached a lady that stays around my area and suggested we travel together using my car.”

Since then two more people have joined Ngubo on her inter-city shuttle. “I was reaching a point where I couldn’t afford to take myself to work,” she said.

Those concerns bother Kerush Govender, who owns a fleet of trucks. He worries for his employees who use public transport.

“Some of the people who work here are having a problem coming to work because they can no longer afford to travel,” he said.

Phillip Taaibosch, general-secretary of the South African National Taxi Association, said members were discussing how much taxi fares would go up by in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Fares increased last week in some provinces and other provinces will follow soon,” he said.

Two local motorists , Thandanani Mkhize and Siyabonga Dambuza, who drive daily to work, said the petrol price hikes were a serious problem.

Mkhize, who normally fills his tank twice a month, said he last did so on the Tuesday evening before the price went up, and spent R690.

“At first I didn’t really care about the petrol price, but now I am starting to feel the pinch … but I don’t think I’d ever consider using public transport. That is not an option for me,” Mkhize said.

Dambuza, on the other hand, bought only enough petrol for the journey. “The amount I spend depends on where I’m going.”

An Edendale resident recalled that 10 years ago he spent half the money he now spends on petrol.

“I would never have imagined that petrol would be this expensive,” he said.

Fuel prices have risen by more than 25% in the past 12 months, and last week’s 28 cents price hike takes the price of unleaded fuel to R12,22 per litre.

THE requirements for operating a lift club are stringent, according to Automobile Association.

The association’s Gary Ronald said a lift club operator would need commercial insurance cover, public liability cover, a public driver’s permit and professional driving permit.

Outsurance head of client relations Natasha Kawulesar said her firm offered cover to clients who used their vehicles for lift clubs.

“The number of times in a month that a client uses the vehicle to transport people will be one of the determining factors in whether the vehicle is being used for lift club purposes or is actually being used to conduct a business,” she added.

Kawulesar said the benefit for members of a lift club was lower costs in terms of fuel and vehicle maintenance.

But Outsurance did not offer passenger liability cover on vehicles used for lift clubs, she added; that was handled by the Road Accident Fund.

Danny Joffe, a senior legal advisor with Hollard Insurance, said the main issue was whether the passengers were paying the policy holder (or driver). That would be an issue for the underwriters, he said, because the passengers would technically be paying a fare.

But if a lift club’s passengers did not pay, and the policy holder simply took a turn at driving, there was no issue, said Joffe.

The Road Accident Fund was amended to make the passenger liability risk much less onerous for insurers.

Before the amendments, the passengers in a lift club were limited to claiming a maximum of R25 000 and they could then sue the negligent driver for the rest. But this limit has been lifted.

“In a case of an accident passengers can lodge a claim with the Road Accident Fund and may not claim against the policyholder or policy holder’s insurer,” Joffe added.

Kawulesar urged prospective lift club operators to supply correct information so that there would be no liability arising from an accident that resulted in a claim.

Taxis: Owners soon to hike fares in all provinces

Lift clubs: the insurance issuefacebook: what people say

Gavin Paul Jolliffe: “We being ripped off. My understanding is that we get 45% of our petroleum from Sasol, so why don’t we have a choice either buy local or imported?”

Siphelele Ziks: “I guess I need to learn how to ride a bicycle!”

Renee Cooper: “I am already giving lifts to people who can no longer afford to run their own cars but won’t take taxis because they are too dangerous. But what happens when I can no longer afford to run my vehicle?”

Danie Fourie: “The increase is due to our corrupt government. They embezzle more than the country can afford because they know that petrol is something this country won’t boycott, so it’s an easy way to make up their losses.”

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