ALEX – Alex taxi associations that usually don’t see eye to eye have joined forces to muster a biting fare increase.
The powerful Alexandra Taxi Association (ATA) and its counterpart, the Alexandra Randburg Midrand and Sandton Taxi Association (Armsta) have cast their difference aside and forged unity to demand what commuters have described as a ‘biting fare hike’.
The almost quadrupled fare increase is due to start as of 1 July unless government speeds up the proposed bailout of the industry due to the Covid-19 related losses which the industry said was forcing them to implement a steep fare hike in order to make up for those loses.
A single trip fare between Alexandra and the CBD of Johannesburg and other areas such as Randburg and Midrand could well be quadrupled from the current R13 to close to R40 as the taxi industry wants to make up for its losses due to a Covid-19 requirement that they carry less than half their normal passenger load per trip in order to observe social distancing.
ATA and Armsta have jointly told the media that the only way to avert the proposed fare hike was for government to speed up the payment of the compensation for the Covid-19 losses as stated.
They have proposed a strict timeline for the payments to be made, failing which will lead to a taxi blockade of Johannesburg.A statement from the Alexandra Parliamentary Constituency office has expressed ‘disappointment and disapproval’ of the decision by the ATA and Armsta ‘to hike taxi prices, without any consideration whatsoever for the plight of commuters and the interests of the community of Alex’, which the statement said was one of the most impoverished communities in the [Gauteng] province.
The statement, issued by former Gauteng Community Safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane and former #AlexTotalShutdown leader Sandile Mavundla and Raehedean Mankoe, said, “We are of the view that the price hike is highly irrational, insensitive and inhuman given the pressures that commuters, with their limited salary base, are already under, owing to an economy that was already highly in the red even before Covid-19 exacerbated things.”
This means that the taxi industry, through this disproportionate price hike, is contributing to the worsening of the material conditions of the people of Alex, sinking them deeper into a poverty trap, which like quicksand, they will find themselves unable to get out of.
“We want to strongly urge the industry and its local associations to reconsider and desist from implementing this ludicrous fare increase, all in the interest, not just of the people of Alexandra who are their customers, but also the sustainability of their business model.”
The constituency said it was hopeful that the ongoing talks between government and the taxi industry as a whole on the structure and format of the relief fund payment would yield positive results.
“We understand that there are frustrations with government over a relief package for the industry but are hopeful that an amicable solution will be found in this regard.”