More Joburg taxi associations plan to hike fares

09 June 2020 - 07:50
By Penwell Dlamini
Bree Taxi Rank in Johannesburg usually connects thousands of people a day to  towns, suburbs and townships.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi Bree Taxi Rank in Johannesburg usually connects thousands of people a day to towns, suburbs and townships.

Tough times lie ahead for commuters in Johannesburg after 76 taxi associations said they were also planning to hike their fares in an effort to recover losses incurred during the national lockdown.

At the weekend, Alexandra Taxi Association (ATA) and Alexandra-Randburg-Midrand-Sandton Taxi Association (Armsta) raised their fares across the board to R30.

SowetanLIVE reports this translated to a more than 170% hike for a single trip for commuters travelling between Sandton and Alexandra.

For someone travelling between Alexandra and Johannesburg inner city, the increase is 130.7%. The new fares are expected to start on June 15.

Taxi associations determine fares for commuters themselves and the government is not part of the process. On Monday, SA National Taxi Council (Santaco) Greater Johannesburg told SABC News that 76 other taxi associations affiliated to Santaco and Top Six will also be hiking their fares on June 15.

Mashishi Mashishi, deputy chairperson of Santaco Greater Johannesburg region, explained the rationale for the associations to raise their fares. “We've got 76 taxi associations both from Top Six and Santaco Greater Johannesburg Region [raising their fares]. From Santaco Greater Johannesburg we have 61 and Top Six we've got 15. We've all agreed that our associations on the ground must not suffer because of this lockdown. They have suffered and it is enough. It is more than 70 days, there is no relief funds. We've been promised relief funds from the first day of the lockdown.

“Now government has started to give people who are not working R350 a month but not yet any funding to the taxi industry. This is our business, nobody is subsidising us. We are sick and tired of subsidising the passengers. We've been subsidising the passengers for 100 years.

“Now this is the time that we must make profit. Otherwise we are not going to pay our monthly instalments, our cars will be repossessed when this lockdown is finished. We stand by that 176% hike and are in full support of it and say they must do it in order for them to make profit. This is the only way we can do it.”

After learning of the hike by Armsta and ATA, transport minister Fikile Mbalula said on Sunday that he was aware of the losses the industry has endured during the lockdown and was working on a plan for their relief. He further threatened to report the exorbitant hike to the Competition Commission.

Meanwhile, Santaco in Gauteng is expected to meet Armsta and ATA on Tuesday to discuss their decision to hike fares.

“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]," spokesperson Midday Mali said.

Armsta and ATA said their members had been loading at 70% of capacity, resulting in serious financial losses for them. Furthermore, taxis operated for limited hours during levels 5 and 4 of the lockdown, resulting in huge losses. Fuel prices have also increased, they said.

Gauteng MEC for transport Jacob Mamabolo said he was disappointed at the decision. “I have set a meeting with the taxi associations for Wednesday [tomorrow] where we will discuss this issue. Using force and threats is not going to help the taxi industry. The new norm that the taxi industry must adopt is to resolve problems around a table.”