THE Public Transport Board has announced a 10 percent fare hike for public transport operators.
In terms of the new fares, which will come into effect from 1 October 2021, the small taxis popularly known as the 4+1, will begin charging M9 up from M8. A 15-seater mini-bus will charge to M8, 50 up from M7, 50 while buses will charge M5 for local routes.
“From 1 October 2021, the taxi fares will increase by 10 percent and the full list of the new prices will be found at the Ministry of Transport,” Public Transport Board chairperson, Limema Phohlo, said.
Mr Phohlo said unlike in previous years, they would now be increasing pubic transport fares on an annual basis.
“The public should expect increments on a yearly basis as we intend to be consistent unlike in the past years,” Mr Phohlo said.
Consumer Protection Association chairperson, Khoabane Khalema, said the increment was “reasonable because the people offering transport services need the money to maintain the services”.
He however, called on taxi operators to improve their services, saying many vehicles were not up to standard.
“Often times taxis are not roadworthy and the drivers and conductors are rude to customers. That needs to change,” Mr Khalema said.
However, the fare hike has not been well received by taxi operators who say it is too little and cannot cover their operating costs.
“This is an embarrassment and an insult to us. The 10 percent is too little,” said a furious taxi owner who refused to be identified for fear of victimisation.
“We have already been affected by the Covid-19 restrictions which compel us to reduce the number of passengers in our vehicles. We had hoped the increments would cushion us but 10 percent is too little,” he added.
Thulo Khampepe, from the Roma Taxi Association, concurred. He said the government should at least hiked fares by 20 percent.
“This is not enough. Taxis need to be maintained and owners need to pay their drivers from the profits hence the increment is not enough,” Mr Khampepe said.
However, Tšitso Khanyapa, a factory worker in Maseru, said the increments would only erode the little gains they had made when the government gazette new minimum wages of 14 percent this year.
He said the increments should have been postponed to a later date when the Covid-19 pandemic had subsided.
“Times are still too tough. Some people lost their jobs and inflation has gone up. Some of us could not afford taxi fares even before the latest increments. It will now be even more difficult after the increments,” Mr Khanyapa said.