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Prices rising, citizens falling

10 February 2014, 11:10

R13.96c. That is the cost of one litre of petrol South African’s are currently having to pay. It is a record high amount which is setting people back a bit more each month. South African citizens are paying absurd amounts of money for various items and this incredibly high cost of living is not going to do anything but prevent citizens from ever moving up the economic chain. I believe that one of the most important factors adding to South Africans being unable to develop within their jobs is the gross amount of money required to travel.

There are a couple of aspects that can be listed under the heading of ‘Being able to transport is difficult’. As mentioned above, one of them is the rising petrol price. This makes it difficult for any individual who owns a vehicle to be able to continue travelling to and from work, because just as the petrol price increases, so does his/her monthly travelling expenses. Another factor which adds to this individual being unable to travel to and from work is the recently implemented e-tolling system. E-tolls coupled with the continuously increasing petrol prices are preventing individuals from travelling to and from work, and in some cases, are making it literally impossible for people to travel to and from work. Let us use an example:

Mr. C lives in Soweto but has a job in Johannesburg. He currently travels to work in his car which is over fifteen years old and therefore needs repairs. He makes it, though, taking it one day at a time. Since the recent implementing of the e-tolling system, Mr. C finds it difficult to pay for the e-tolls as well as pay for the petrol every month. He is hoping things will somehow get better, but is pulling through, one day at a time.

Two months after purchasing an e-tag, paying the e-toll amounts and paying for petrol that is constantly increasing in price, Mr. C decides that he can no longer afford to travel to and from work by means of his own vehicle. Added to this decision is the fact that the vehicle is in dire need of repairs. He manages to get by and afford all his monthly costs, excepting his transport costs – This has set him off completely and if a solution is not found, he will lose his job and will no longer be able to support his mother and father with whom he lives. Can you see the affect the e-tolls and petrol may have on an individuals’ life? But wait now, we continue our story -

Mr. C now decides that he has two options – To travel to work via taxi, or to travel to work via a carpool. He thinks that the carpool would be a good idea, as four or five individuals could make use of one car and all pay a smaller amount of money towards the petrol and e-tolls per month, instead of paying one huge amount themselves. He thinks that travelling by taxi would also be a good idea, as taxis are exempt from paying e-tolls. The only problem he is facing is that his job requires him to be at work by 5:30am and there are no taxis available before that time to get him to work by 5:30am. The other problem he has is that there are not enough people living in Soweto that work where he does, therefore a carpool is no longer optional.

In conclusion, Mr. C now has a big problem that will directly affect other parts of his and his family members’ lives. This is a good example of how petrol prices going up and e-tolls being implemented are to the detriment of our citizens. It may be easy for people to utter the words ‘work these costs into your monthly expenses’, but let us all remember that salaries are not keeping up with price increases. Therefore, where Mr. C could save R200 a month in the bank before the petrol increases and e-tolls, he is now only able to save R50. When Mr. C has an opportunity to grow and develop within his job, he cannot take this opportunity do to the fact that a bit more travelling is required.

One may think ‘Why does Mr. C not find a job in Soweto? Which would be in walking distance?’. The problem our citizens are facing today is a lack of jobs. Unemployment is at its highest now than it ever was. Therefore, when an individual has a job, and is valued within that company – they dare not move. Now, I am not saying that we, as citizens, should accept it and be content and satisfied with the high unemployment rate South Africa is currently facing, but what I am saying, is that this is our current reality.

This is something that needs changing and until we, as individuals, acknowledge the root cause of this problem (current policies/systems implemented et cetera) and do something about it (vote differently), there is nothing that can be done.

The power truly is in our hands, more specifically, on the piece of paper we sign on voting day, using our hands.

If we want change, we have to make the change ourselves.

Opinions are my own.

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