Santaco demands clarity on huge taxi fare hike

Image: Gallo Images/Foto24/Lulama Zenzile

The SA National Taxi Council in Gauteng has called a meeting with two associations which have announced raising their fares by over 100% in order to recover losses incurred due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Spokesperson of Santaco in Gauteng, Midday Mali said the council needed to find out the reasons behind such a drastic measure.

“We are saying as a province we have invited them to a meeting where we’ll sit around a table and discuss the issue of the fare increase. We are hoping as a province that we may come up with a better way [to address the issues].

“We will sit around the table and hear from them what has prompted them to increase their fares by that amount. Maybe we can unpack those reasons and see how best we can assist in the challenges they are facing,” Mali said.

The date of the meeting is yet to be confirmed but Mali said it will happen very soon. Alexandra Taxi Association and Alexandra-Randburg-Midrand-Sandton Taxi Association (Armsta) raised their fares across the board to R30 which translated to over 170% in some of the routes. The new fares are expected to start on June 15. The associations said they took the decision in order to deal with the financial pressures they are currently facing. Among these is the fact that taxis only load up to 70% of capacity and have been limited in the number of working hours during the level 5 and 4 of the national lockdown resulting and huge losses. Furthermore, the price of fuel have just gone up pushing their operating costs high. The associations complained that nothing had materialized on the relief that government promised to provide to the taxi industry.

Santaco has not come out clear as to whether it supports the decision taken by the taxi associations or not. Commuters were shocked by the decision. Transport minister Fikile Mbalula threatened to refer the fare increase to the Competition Commission, saying government is still working on a plan for the sector. After learning about the fares, Gauteng MEC of transport Jacob Mamabolo said he is disappointed at the decision of the two taxi associations.

“It came as a surprise that under conditions of Covid-19, with the complexities and challenges that it brings, particularly the financial burden, has now been shifted to the commuter.

“That should not be the way. We don’t think that the difficulties of making money and profit should be taken to the commuter. Covid-19 itself also means that commuters, households are experiencing serious difficulties. The matter should have been placed on the table for consideration and discussion. The minister of transport is leading negotiations and discussions with the entire taxi industry to find an amicable solution for relief to the taxi industry. This means government has already acknowledged that Covid-19 is going to put a strain on already difficult conditions faced by the taxi industry,” Mamabolo said.

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