PUBLIC transport operators have called on the government to subsidise public transport fares to off-set the negative impact of the ever-increasing fuel prices on their business.
The call by the Maseru Region Taxi Operators (MTRO) follows the latest fuel hikes that took effect on Friday.
In a recent statement, the Petroleum Fund announced a M0, 65 increase in the pump price of petrol 93 which means that consumers will now fork out M13, 20 per litre. Petrol 95 has also gone up by M0, 70 and consumers will now pay M13, 40 per litre.
The price of Diesel 50 was increased by 80 lisente to M14 per litre and Diesel 500 increased by 65 lisente to M13,60 per litre.
The wholesale price of illuminating paraffin increased by M0, 45 per litre to M9, 75 per litre.
MRTO spokesperson Lebohang Moea yesterday told the Sunday Express that although government had increased transport fares by 23 percent last month, a subsidy on public transport fares would go a long way in off-setting the high operating costs that transport operators had to contend with.
He said the recent transport fare hike had not helped them at all as it was too little for an industry which had gone for six years with a fare hike. He added that whatever little had been achieved by that fare increase would be offset by the latest round of fuel increases.
“The fuel increase is going to hit us very hard because we are already struggling with high operating costs,” Mr Moea said.
“The August fare hike has not changed a lot for us and we believe that a government subsidy is the only thing that can help us. We are even forced to charge some commuters lower than the standard fares every day because they cannot afford them. The government should therefore meet us half way by introducing a subsidy,” he said.
Lesotho is not alone in experiencing the difficulties that come with the fuel hikes. The situation appears to far worse in neighbouring South Africa where fuel hikes scaled unprecedented levels in June this year.
According to economists, South African motorists should prepare to dish out an exorbitant R17, 90 by the end of 2018 and up to R20 at the end of 2019.