The Eastern Cape Taxi Council said yesterday it would hike taxi fares next month, despite commuters' dissatisfaction with its poor services.
Council spokesman Ntsikelelo Goniwe said the increase in fares would range from 30c to R1 depending on routes and commuters' destinations.
Goniwe said the council's decision was prompted by last week's 69c a litre petrol price increase. He said the taxi industry was not subsidised by the government and had to resort to a fare increase.
"This price hike has knocked the taxi industry off its mark," he said.
Goniwe said other modes of transport, such as buses, which were also their competitors, did not feel the price hike as badly as the taxi industry because they were subsidised by the government.
Defending the fare increase, Goniwe said the council only increased taxi fares once a year as opposed to the petrol price, which he claimed could rise 10 or 12 times a year.
He said the petrol price only dropped by a few cents twice a year and there was no occasion when this equalled the amount by which it had been increased.
"This is a heavy blow because a taxi's fuel tank holds about 70 litres, which costs about R500 a time," he said.
Goniwe said that before coming to its decision, the council had considered such factors as the high levels of poverty and unemployment in the province.
Commuters had mixed feelings about the impending fare hike.
Zanoxolo Ngalo said immediately he heard about the fuel hike, he anticipated the fare increase.
"Their decision is understandable because the recent fuel price hike was massive," he said.
But Nobubele Madolo said taxi associations were only after money rather than improving their services.
Madolo said most taxi drivers were ill-disciplined and treated their customers badly. She also complained about the poor condition of many taxis.