Taxi Fares Face Reality

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK The Namibia Bus and Taxi Association (Nabta) has announced taxi fare increases of N$0.50 cents with effect from today. The fare adjustment represents a 10 per cent increase. Nabta Vice President Innocent Simasiku, told a press conference in Windhoek on Saturday that the increase comes as a result of escalating fuel prices as announced by the Ministry of Mines and Energy last week. Over the weekend, Nabta members proposed that the taxi fare be increased by 50 cents, bringing the current fee to N$ 6.50cents. “We consulted with our regional operators and we decided to increase the prices given the escalation in fuel prices,” Simasiku stated. He added, “We looked at a number of factors including the health of our passengers. We need to have our cars serviced, drivers need to be paid, and, given the high costs, we decided to increase the fares to be in line with the demand.” For long distances such as Katima Mulilo to Windhoek, the passenger price of N$210 from today changes to N$230. Fares for Oshakati to Windhoek will cost N$115 and not N$105, as was the case. Taxi operators are advised to buy their price lists from the Nabta office as from Wednesday this week. Local taxi driver Matheus Nuungulu, in an interview with New Era, expressed satisfaction with the N$0.50 cents increase. He pleaded with members of the public to co-operate with taxi drivers and not claim ignorance at the new taxi fares. He reminded passengers who travel with boxes and big bags that they will have to pay for their goods, especially if they fill up the boot. “If the boot is very full and the car becomes low because of the luggage, such a person will be charged an extra N$10,” he stated. At areas that do not have taxi ranks, Nuungulu said passengers should be prepared to pay double the price. For mothers who board taxis with more than one child aged seven and above, a price of N$6.50 will be paid for the children as they are likely to take up space that would accommodate another passenger. Fuel price increases came into effect on Wednesday June 7. New pump prices for controlled products will increase by 20 cents per litre for Lead Replacement Petrol (LRP) and Unleaded Petrol and 35 cents per litre for diesel. Diesel, which used to be the cheapest, will now cost more at N$5.65 per litre while LRP and unleaded petrol will cost N$5.57 and N$5.59 per litre respectively at Walvis Bay. A 46-litre sedan car that used N$183 to fill up four years ago in 2002 now fills up for N$263. The Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Joseph Ita recently stated that although the ministry wants to keep fuel prices to the bare minimum considering its huge impact on the economy, it has to harmonise fuel prices with neighbouring states to be fair in respect of pricing mechanisms used. Namibia imports most of its fuel from neighbouring South Africa, where fuel has already passed the N$6 mark. The fuel price in Namibia and South Africa has a difference of 14.3 percent, 12.5 percent and 6.8 percent for unleaded petrol, LRP and diesel respectively. The ministry has to adapt to all the international crude oil price changes, the Namibia Dollar/US Dollar exchange rate fluctuations and also pressures for internal increases on fuel price elements, he added. The country does not produce or refine oil and thus it has no control over fuel prices.