THE talk of the nation right now is undoubtedly the latest increase in petrol and diesel prices, which has been received like a punch in the guts, and motorists big and small are doubling up with the impact of more expenses to their already shrinking budget.
Woema took to the streets to get a feel of what exactly the people thought, and with the obvious reaction of dissatisfaction from motorists, came a plea for the Government to step in and soften the blow somehow.
Windhoek Pastor, Chris Jonathan is pleading with the Government to help regulate the fuel price hikes, and compensate the motorist in some way for what they have to spend at the pumps, because he claims that Namibia is going to sit with big problems, as the impact of rising costs sets in.
“At the end of the day what are the people going to eat?” he questioned, “The way I look at it, is that the Government needs to do something about this dilemma, because we are heading for a crash.
“The people in Windhoek are suffering as it is, and the new price increases are going to place an even bigger burden on a society that is trying to keep its head above the water,” he added.
He claimed that since many of the Government officials don’t pay directly for petrol, the increase is not going to hit their pocket and affect their lives, the way it will for the man-in-the-street who has to pay dearly.
Pastor Johnathan was filling up the tank of his sedan when he spoke to Woema, saying that because of the higher petrol expenses, he is now going to have to limit his driving in town, and cut down on commuting.
“We have two vehicles running in the family, so more cash spent at the pumps, means less spending for us.”
Echoing the concerns of the new fuel increase, was Israel Shekunyenge a taxi driver of years, who said it was already tough for the taxi industry before the price hike, but now taxi drivers and fleet taxi owners are going to feel the squeeze.
“There will come a day when the taxi fares are going to have to go up, because we have little profit as it is, and we also have families to feed,” he said.
“The only problem is that our customers suffer because our taxis take the people everywhere – to work and to school, and there is no way they can cut down on these expenses, so really when petrol goes up – it is bad news for everyone.”
The price of fuel increased last Wednesday, after Minister of Mines and Energy Isak Katali announced that 95 Octane Unleaded Petrol will increase by 38 cents per litre (retail) to cost N$12,04 per litre, and Diesel 500 parts per million (ppm) will increase by 30 cents per litre to cost N$12,57 per litre. The newly introduced Diesel 50ppm was increased by 34 cents per litre to cost N$12,67 per litre.
He said the exchange rate between the Namibian dollar and the United States (US) dollar has depreciated greatly due to labour tensions in the South African labour market, thereby threatening the price of imports in the local market, and the oil industry was no exception from these adverse effects.
Katali noted that the government will once more bear half of the cost of the resultant under-recoveries recorded of between 50 cents and 54 cents per litre at the fuel pump for both petrol and diesel. This means all fuel is sold for between 50 cents and 58 cents less than what it actually costs the oil industry to import. This shortfall is subsidised by the Namibian Government through the National Energy Fund. The latest fuel price increase aims at mitigating this under-recovery situation and to reduce the burden on the National Energy Fund.
The ministry further accepted in its statement that the fuel price increase would directly impact the transport industry, and spark inflation in the Namibian economy, which remains heavily reliant on road transport.
By Donna Collins