Commuters and motorists are facing a financially tougher festive season with the petrol price already 71c more from yesterday, while taxi commuters are in for what is expected to be a significant fare hike next week.
Bus commuters however, have been given a reprieve by the Algoa Bus Company, which may only consider fare hikes from February.
The Department of Energy said on Monday the price of all grades of petrol would increase by 71c a litre from yesterday, with the increase taking the price of 95 octane petrol to R14.76 a litre inland and to R14.27 at the coast, while the price of diesel with 0.05% and 0.005% sulphur content increased by 60.30c and 57.30c a litre respectively.
The raises mark the fifth consecutive month of price hikes, with the latest attributed to global fuel prices and the rand-dollar exchange rate.
A year ago today, a litre of 95 octane petrol cost R12.85 inland and R12.37 at the coast.
One of Nelson Mandela Bay’s taxi associations, Ncedo, has already increased its prices.
Reacting to the hikes and commuter complaints about the Ncedo price rise, Songezo Mphanda, president of the branch of the umbrella organisation, the SA National Taxi Council, yesterday said others would follow soon.
“Ncedo has increased the price for the Motherwell-town leg by R2.
“But there are issues around this, as meetings must still be held to determine the price increases of all the associations operating in the metro.
“The increase must be agreed across the board,” Mphanda said.
“Operators in areas such as Uitenhage and the northern areas in Port Elizabeth must still meet to discuss the increase.” He said the industry regretted it, but had held off on increasing prices for some time.
Mphanda expected new pricing to be introduced next week.
“We are sorry fares must go up, but the industry is also facing huge costs in maintenance and parts,” he said.
“The fuel price hike is affecting us all, and we expect that fares for longdistance trips will also be increased.”
Algoa Bus general manager Sicelo Duze said the firm had empathy with the financially-embattled communities and would not increase fares yet.
“This is not because we can afford to – what people do not realise is this 71c [fuel hike] is over and above the increase last month, the one before that, and the increases before that.
“However, the community, our customers, are facing tough times.
“There is massive unemployment, and companies, like General Motors, have closed,” Duze said.
“Some people are going on leave and will not have a job to go back to.
“So, we’ll bite the bullet for now and absorb the increased costs as a gesture of goodwill.”
Duze said the company would reassess economic conditions through January and February before deciding on a fare increase.
The Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber said it would be difficult to determine the effect of the fuel price hikes, particularly during the country’s busiest holiday period.
“It is hard to say what impact the fuel price increase will have on business, particularly the tourism and retail sectors, which traditionally do well this time of the year,” chamber spokeswoman Cindy Preller said.
“We hope the fuel price increases will not affect food prices in the long term – and that consumers and businesses alike can expect some relief next year.”