Soaring fuel price makes high society join the taxi queue

Taxi fares are going up on all routes this month. The taxi associations have added a rand here and R1,50 there. This does not seem much until you calculate the daily fare to and from work.

Taxi fares are going up on all routes this month. The taxi associations have added a rand here and R1,50 there. This does not seem much until you calculate the daily fare to and from work.

The fares have jumped by more than R6 a day. This comes to an additional R30 a week, almost a week's worth of bread for a family.

We cannot complain since many people with cars are now joining the taxi queue. They cannot afford the high petrol price, which is strangling everyone.

I suspect we will hear a lot of conversations about BEE deals, high society's shenanigans and the private schools their children attend.

These wannabes can be irritating with their twangs and name-dropping. But they can also be amusing because, as one lady put it: "I have known that silly boy since he was in torn short pants an had a runny nose."

This reminds me of the advice that when a pompous bully is being obnoxious, you should imagine what he looks like without his clothes.

In future our imaginations will be working overtime, at least until the wannabes go back to using their own cars.

I asked one driver why the prices were going up so steeply instead of the usual 50c. His answer surprised me.

He said during the recapitalisation talks rumours were flying all over the place about the outcome of the negotiations.

One of them was that many drivers had bought their own skorokoros so that they could qualify for the R50000 scrapping fee.

With the scheme on hold, many are struggling to pay off these old crocks. This time insider information and trading led them into deep, dark debt, not instant moolah.

These are the kombis that can be seen daily on the roads from Dobsonville to Snake Park, Kwezi to White City and Dube to Meadowlands.

The end result was that there was a glut of taxis on every route. There were new minnows fighting for a fixed pool of commuters against the taxi moguls who have 30 to 40 taxis each.

A further problem arose because of the new permit system. Some taxi owners register one car legally and then use the same permit to run 10 other taxis.

The industry is heavily oversaturated and profits are slim. Drivers have to work a great deal of overtime to try and get their old profits.

The driver told me that competition was heavy and was straining the unity of the associations. He said they now worked seven days a week to try and earn a little money.

He said the one good thing that would come from the deprivation was that drivers would think twice before adding a new girlfriend to their stable.

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