Fuel prices, virus brake taxi industry

Fewer passengers as a result of Covid-19 regulations and a hike in fuel prices are hurting especially long-distance taxi drivers.

13 August 2020 | Business

I am already not making enough money like I used to before. – Samuel Petrus, Long-distance driver: Kunene

Long-distance drivers in the south of Kunene say their business has been negatively affected by the recent increases in fuel prices and by the current Covid-19 prevention measures implemented to halt the spread of the virus.

Fuel prices increased countrywide last week, with petrol increasing by 100 cents per litre and diesel increasing by 70 cents per litre.

In an interview with Nampa, some drivers said due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic measures, the number of passengers to be loaded by long-distance taxis has been reduced, resulting in drivers generating less income than usual.

Samuel Petrus, a long-distance driver who transports passengers from Outjo to Opuwo, said the fuel pump price increase is affecting his only source of income.

“I will say that the measures put in place to curb the pandemic have already affected my income and now fuel has been increased, meaning that I have to dig deep in my pockets for fuel. I am already not making enough money like I used to before. We can only load about four or five persons in the minibus due to the social distancing measures,” he said.

He added that although their region is not on lockdown, there are few people travelling between the towns of Outjo and Opuwo after the pandemic, as people are afraid to travel due to the Covid-19 outbreak.



Social distancing

Another long-distance driver, Mario Snewe, said that he is also negatively affected by the fuel pump price increment.

“I usually drive trips from Outjo to Otjiwarongo with my sedan. The measures that have been put in place allow me to only load three passengers instead of four, meaning that I am losing out on the money of the fourth passenger and now the fuel prices have increased. This has now resulted in me making much less money. I am thinking of holding on until the fuel pump prices drop or the Covid -19 social distancing measures are lifted,” he said.

Manfred Tjinduwa, who drives his taxi between Khorixas and Kamanjab, said he is not making enough money as the fuel is expensive.

“It has been a really challenging time for us as long-distance drivers. It sounds like the fuel increment has not affected any of us in any way, but we have been in the taxi industry for a long time [and] now we have to put our hands deep into our pockets. It has really affected our industry,” said Tjinduwa.

The Covid-19 social distance measure only allows three passengers for sedans travelling a long distance, five passengers for seven-seater vehicles and only seven passengers for minibuses. Most drivers in Kunene south are using sedans and seven-seater vehicles for long-distance customers.

– Nampa

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