- threaten to take “other measures” if govt does not approve fare increase
PUBLIC transport operators are demanding a 10 percent fare increment with effect from 1 September 2021.
Maseru Regional Taxi Operators (MRTO) chairperson, Mokete Jonas, yesterday said the fare hike was necessitated by the latest fuel price increments announced on 8 July 2021 by the Petroleum Fund.
The price of petrol and diesel went up by about 65 cents per litre while paraffin was increased by 40 cents per litre.
This means that petrol93 now costs M14,25 per litre and petrol95 now costs M14,35 per litre. Diesel now costs M14,25 per litre while paraffin is now M9,90 per litre.
Commenting on the fuel price increments, Mr Jonas said, “the price hikes are strongly affecting us because our fares have not been increased for a long time.
“Everything else is increasing and we are affected. That is why we want a fare increase. We recently had a meeting with the Transport Board to suggest that taxi fares be increased by 10 percent starting 1 September 2021,” Mr Jonas said.
He warned that they would take “other measures” if the Transport Board did not give in to their demands.
Although he did not specify the measures, this could mean a strike by public transport operators. The operators have a history of withdrawing their vehicles from the roads whenever their demands are not met. This often results in commuters being stranded and forced to walk long distances to and from the central business districts of major urban centres.
The commuter fares were last increased in 2018 to the current M8 for the small taxis popularly known as 4+1 because they carry four passengers and a driver. Mini-buses charge M7,50 per passenger.
If the fare hikes are approved, a 4+1 taxi will charge a round figure of M9 while a mini-bus will charge M8, Mr Jonas said.
Although marginal, the increments are likely to hit commuters hard in a country which is reeling from economic challenges that have been aggravated by the Covid-19 induced slowdown on economic activity.
The majority of the country’s textile workers can barely afford the current transport costs and many of them can be observed walking long distances to and from their workplaces every day.