PUBLIC transport operators have effected fare hikes despite the government’s recent announcement of a M180 million fuel subsidy for the next six months.
The new fares have seen 4+1 taxi fares rising from M9 for a 0 to 10-kilometre distance to M12. This reflects a 30 percent fare increase.
Fares for long distance bus trips have gone up by 21, 1 percent.
The government a fortnight ago announced a M30 million monthly fuel subsidy for the next six months to cushion motorists and commuters from the high cost of petroleum fuels.
Taking effect on 1 July 2022, the fuel subsidy will see the prices of petroleum fuels going down slightly.
This means the fixed price of petrol 93 will go down to M22, 20 from M23, 70 per litre. The price of petrol95 will reduce to M22, 65 from M24, 15 per litre while the price of diesel will go down to M23, 05 from M24, 55 per litre. Paraffin prices will go down to M17, 80 from M18, 90 per litre starting from July 2022.
Driven by Russia’s February 2022 invasion of Ukraine which has disrupted global fuel supplies, the prices of fuel have been increasing for several months and the subsidy will give consumers the much-needed relief.
But the subsidy announcement came long after the government had already approved a 30 percent fare increase for 4+1 taxi and a 21, 1 percent increase for long distance routes.
In an interview with the Lesotho Times, Transport minister, Tšoeu Mokeretla said the subsidy would not affect the decision to hike public transport fares.
He explained that the fare hike decision was based on a 35 percent fuel increase at the time, which has since been followed by a further 40 percent increase after the announcement of the fare hike but before its implementation. Therefore, the subsidy would not affect the looming transport fare hike.
The Road Transport Board (RTB) on 24 May 2022, announced the fare hike and said it would be implemented on 24 June 2022.
“The planned implementation of public transport fare increase is going ahead on Friday,” Mr Mokeretla said.
“The subsidy will not have any effect on the fare increase because it is coming at a time when fuel price increases have been rampant. Since the decision to increase public transport fares was made based on a 35 percent fuel hike, there has been another 40 percent fuel price increase before the implementation of the new fares.”
Following the fare hike announcement earlier this month, petrol93 prices rose by a massive M3 to M23, 70 per litre while petrol95 increased by M3, 20 to M24, 15 per litre. The price of diesel50 increased by 75 cents per litre to M24, 55 per litre while the wholesale price of paraffin rose by M1, 10 to M18, 90 per litre.
The transport fare hike approval followed threats by transport operators in April 2022 to stage a massive nationwide strike if the government did not heed their demands.
The Lesotho Taxi Operators’ Association (LTOA) wanted a 30 percent fare hike across the board.
They complained that their businesses were no longer viable due to escalating operating costs and the recent fuel price increases.
The last fare hike was a 10 percent increase across the board in October 2021.