Taxi owners, commuters hit hard by latest fuel price hike

2011-04-09 15:48

Anna Mankademeng transports schoolchildren for a living.

She owns three minibuses which travel between Vosloorus in Ekurhuleni and the surrounding suburbs of Boksburg.

Each child pays R450 a month for the daily trip of about 50kms to and from school. In the past business was booming, she says. She recently added another vehicle to her fleet but the

latest petrol price increase poses a huge challenge to her business, she says.

“I am really not sure if I will be able to keep up with this increase. I am still paying a monthly instalment for the ­latest addition. And increasing the price per child is a story on its own because I do not want to risk losing customers.

“Times are tough indeed,” says Mankademeng.

Each minibus carries 15 learners and the tank needs to be filled at least twice a week, she says.

Before this week’s increase a full tank for each minibus cost her R800 but she would add 30 more litres on Friday ­afternoons to drive back to the filling station on Sunday afternoon in preparation for the week ahead.

The increase means that she will now have to pay R1 000 to fill each tank and a further R300 at the end of the week.

Mankademeng is responsible for the salaries of two drivers in her employ and pays school fees for her daughter, who is at varsity.

The R20 250 she makes every month will not be enough to accommodate the new increase, especially with the expected increase in food prices, she says.

Mankademeng says she will try to make ends meet by selling sweets and snacks to the learners. But the profits are not guaranteed because many of the learners do not carry cash, she says.

Themba Mbatha (28), another resident of Ekurhuleni, owns a Honda, which doesn’t use much petrol.

But that was ­before the increase. Mbatha, who works in Alberton, says a full tank costs him R400.

The petrol lasts him eight days and he stresses that he only uses his car to go to work.

Now he says he will have to put in an extra 10 ­litres of petrol if he is to drive around over the weekends.

However, this week he had already spent R600 on petrol and the tank was running empty.

“This increase will force me to dig deeper into my pocket.

“Mind you, I am also paying transport for my son, who ­attends a primary school close to my place of work.

We cannot travel together because of time differences in our respective calls.” Mbatha says he will join a lift club to cut costs.

“I cannot endure abuse by taxi drivers and will not take a bus either,” he says. ­

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