Commuters in Mbombela, Mpumalanga, and the surrounding townships are feeling the pinch as taxi fares have increased. They’re now paying an extra R1 and per trip since the 1st of December. Minibus taxis are the most popular mode of transport in South Africa.

Millions of citizens, especially in townships, use it daily. Travelling by taxi is the only way for tens of thousands of residents in and around Mbombela to get around.  Most people prefer informal minibus taxis because of their frequency.  However, commuters say the price-hike is a bitter pill to swallow. With the high unemployment rate, they feel the increase was not necessary. Some claim to be spending almost half their salaries on transport.

“It’s really affecting us because they have increased the fare, there are no job opportunities, people have lost their jobs because of COVID. It affects everyone including pensioners, financially, we are not stable, but all the prices are going up,” a taxi commuter explains.

Taxi operators have refuted claims that price hikes were influenced by the increase in fuel prices. TopStar Taxi Association chairperson, John Mavundla says the price hike was long overdue.

“We are increasing the price each and every year. We didn’t increase our price last year because there was COVID and lockdown, we didn’t increase our price, that is why we have increased this year, the fees have increased by R1 because we think for our passengers,” says Mavundla.

As the festive season approaches, many people are expecting to travel. Mavundla says taxi operators will intensify measures to curb the spread of COVID-19.

“We always tell them they must always put masks when they get into our taxi and also sanitise, the sanitisers are there, we were doing it before not because there is a new variant,” Mavundla added.

Taxi associations are also discussing road safety measures in preparation for the holiday season.

VIDEO: Taxi fare increase – Top Six Taxi Association to meet with affiliates today: