September 29, 2011 – The hike in taxi fare has led to widespread public outcry in Ethiopia, according to Capital. With the new tariff rates becoming effective from September 19th, the minimum fare goes up by 15 cents, from 1.25 birr to 1.40birr. Though transport officials and taxi owners have defended the hike on the ground of rising costs of spare parts, people from all parts of the country have expressed unhappiness and maintained that the increase will add to the economic burden.
The latest taxi tariff hike in Ethiopia has come as a surprise for many commuters. In the past, it was the increase in the fuel price that led to the government decision on raising taxi tariffs. However, with crude oil prices almost stable in the international market and no possible fuel price rise in the domestic market in the offing, the decision on fare hike has jolted many who depend on taxis to commute between home and office.
Transport officials, however, have justified the hike and maintained that the tariff review took place after a thorough study. Federal Transport Authority Director Kasahun Hailemariam has termed that the tariff hike is in the interest of taxi owners and the public. According to him, the tariff revisions are essential to help taxis provide efficient services and the government has taken into consideration the capacity of the commuters to pay while fixing the new fare. Feleke Haile, chief of Addis Ababa Road and Transport Bureau, argues that the decision has been reached following consultations with people and that due consideration has been given to taxi owners’ complaints about rising cost of tyres and spare parts over the years.
A number of media reports have blamed the introduction of taxi zoning system for the increase in the tariff. When the system commenced on May 11, 2011, many had predicted that tariffs would see an upswing on the demand of the taxi owners. Sources claimed at that time that transport officials had agreed to revise taxi fares. People are of the opinion that the taxi zoning system will improve public transportation but increase commuting costs.
The rise in transportation costs due to the taxi fare hike is sure to add to the despair of citizens. Many office goers are finding it tough to accommodate additional expenditure on transportation, and their anguish is well understood. Inflation in Ethiopia is already in double figure and food prices have climbed by 50 percent in the past few months despite price control measures by the government. Many parts of the country, including Addis Abba, lack adequate public transportation system, and bus services are also limited. People depend on taxi services for daily transportation.