Motorists, consumer activists share their concern

2012-01-30 00:00

PIETERMARITZBURG motorists and consumer activists are on the same page when it comes to Wednesday’s petrol price increase.

Tutti Rudman, chairperson of the South African National Consumer Union (Sancu), called it a worrying trend.

“Consumers find it increasingly difficult to construct a monthly budget given that the price of petrol and other things fluctuate in this way every month,” she said.

She noted that pensioners who collected government grants were particularly vulnerable.

“The grants hardly go up while the prices of other goods and services seem to rise often,” she said.

Pensioner Harry Schoeman couldn’t agree more.

Speaking to The Witness while filling up his motorbike at Hayfields, he said: “It’s a bloody shame. Pensioners will battle with having to pay more. Food prices will also go up.”

Thami Bolani, National Consumer Forum (NCF) chairperson, said low to middle-income consumers would find it particularly difficult to make ends meet.

“We are very disappointed that the petrol price will go up again.

“Taxi fares will no doubt also rise in time. For poorer households, there will be less money for food and other necessities. Many South Africans either have low wages or no jobs at all,” he said.

Veteran consumer activist and former Sancu chairperson Ina Wilken called it terrible news for consumers.

“It will have a knock-on effect on their pockets,” she told The Witness.

Pietermaritzburg civil servant Gugu Hlabisa remarked: “Our salaries can’t cope,” she said.

Pensioner Schoeman commented further: “In fact, food prices never seem to come down,” he said.

“The shops have the stock at the old price and they will wait to increase the price once the petrol price goes up.”

Schoeman accused shops of jumping on the bandwagon.

“The petrol price goes up by 34 cents a litre, but when it comes down, it will come down by maybe five cents a litre.

“What about the poor people?” he asked.

“[What about] those who are destitute and living in squatter camps? What about people struggling in their jobs?”

Shayleen Simons, who works at a bank and cuts commuting costs by using a lift club, said February was the wrong time of year to increase the petrol price because people had other annual fee increases to deal with.

“Next month will be cutback month,” she stressed.

 

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