The SA National Taxi Council (SANTACO) has said the minibus taxi fare hikes announced by some taxi associations will be reviewed later this week, according to a Business Day report on Monday.
On Sunday, the Alexandra, Randburg, Midrand and Sandton Taxi Association (Armsta) as well as the Alexandra Taxi Association (ATA) said they will increase fares from 15 June.
Reports suggest that fares could increase from R11 per single trip to R30. The Gauteng-based associations cited the lockdown’s restrictions, such as 70 percent capacity and the recently lifted curfew, as reasons for the increase.
Meeting later this week
They said, ““This increase is necessary, as we are losing revenue and [the] government is not assisting taxi operators.”
However, SANTACO spokesperson Thabiso Molelekwa said on Monday that although the Council understood the associations’ predicament, it was concerned about how the associations had arrived at the fare hike.
He said, “A national leadership meeting is going to be held sometime later this week to discuss this issue, among others. An appropriate decision will be taken as to what the increase should be. We are very confident that the decision to increase taxi fares by 172 percent will be reviewed.”
A SANTACO media statement on Sunday similarly said the Council usually considers taxi fare increases “at this time of the year in the calendar of taxi business.”
Mbalula considers Competition Commission referral
“An announcement on the decision of the leadership meeting will be made by no later than Thursday,” the Council said.
Transport Minister Fikile Mbalula also issued a statement on Sunday expressing “great concern” at the fare increases “and the ensuing outcry from commuters.”
He said while he empathised with the taxi industry, current regulations prohibit “illegal profiteering” and as a result, he is “enjoined by the regulations to refer the matter to the Competition Commission to assess if the fare increases are fair and justifiable.”
“We understand that there may be a need for fare increases, but those increases must be fair. The industry must take into consideration the plight of the poor and the working class who form the majority of their customers. Anything outside of that fairness is illegality,” Mbalula said.
The Competition Commission said on Monday that it had not received a referral or formal complaint about the matter.
In April, SANTACO launched a R3.5 billion relief fund aimed at supporting 100,000 queue marshals, 150,000 taxi drivers, and the taxi associations’ support staff.