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Fresh round of fuel price increases

By ‘Mathabana Kotelo and Poloko Peo

MASERU — The Petroleum Fund Lesotho has announced a fresh round of fuel price increases which came into effect on Friday morning.
The pump price of petrol has increased by 15 lisente per litre as diesel price rose by 40 lisente per litre while the price of the illuminating paraffin increased by 35 lisente per litre.
In the lowlands (including Quthing and Qacha’s Nek), petrol will now cost M12.10 per litre up from the previous price of M11.95 per litre. A litre of diesel will cost M12.75, up from the previous price of M12.35 per litre while illuminating paraffin will cost M9.55 per litre up from the previous price of M9.20.
Consumers in Mphaki (Zone 2) will now pay M12.16 for a litre of petrol, M12.81 per litre for diesel while illuminating paraffin will now be sold at M9.60 per litre.
For Zone 3 (Thaba-Tseka), the price of petrol is now at M12.19 per litre while diesel and illuminating paraffin are now selling for M12.84 and M9.63 per litre, respectively.
Consumers in the area of Mokhotlong (Zone 4) will now pay M12.28 per litre of petrol and M12.93 for a litre of diesel while a litre of the illuminating paraffin costs M9.71 per litre.
This increase comes barely a month after a previous fuel price adjustment of 40 lisente per litre for petrol, a 35 lisente per litre increase in the price of diesel and a whooping 95 lisente per litre increase in the price of illuminating paraffin.
The latest increase is said to have been caused by the depreciation of the rand/loti against the US dollar.
Motorists and public transport operators are already feeling the pinch.
Lebamang Mokoaleli, a member of Mountain Taxi Association and a taxi owner operating in the southern region of Lesotho said the regular increases in the price of fuel are eroding profits in the transport business.
“It seems that petrol prices are increasing every two weeks and this affects us quite negatively and further depletes business profits in the taxi industry”, he said.
“The taxi industry is no longer a profitable business; with the increasing fuel prices and the cost of repair and maintenance of vehicles, we spend a lot more on running the business”, Mokoaleli said.
Cosmos Ramalaka, Mountain Taxi Association spokesperson, said the taxi industry countrywide is under strain due to the continued increase in fuel prices so they expect new fares soon.
However he said although they would want to see a taxi fare increase that will enable them to make profit, they are also aware that fare increases need to factor-in commuters’ incomes as they will also have to spend significantly more on transport.
Ramalaka said of major concern is the huge difference between taxi and bus fares for long distances in the southern region which he said worsened the strain their industry is under.
“There is a hefty M25 difference between taxi and bus long distance fares from Maseru to Mohale’s Hoek and as taxi operators this affects us quite negatively.
“However, this has been brought to the attention of the Ministry of Works and Public Transport and we hope to get a response next week.”
Petroleum Fund Lesotho warned retailers countrywide against overcharging the consumers by sticking to the set prices.
The Fund said those found overcharging consumers will be prosecuted.

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