Fuel prices have increased three times in May, September and December, prompting negotiations by public transport operators to increase bus fares by 6 percent.
The spike in fuel costs and bus fares means inflation is likely to rise by 1.4 percent during the festive season, says the Bank of Botswana.
“Based on the weights of those items in the basket of goods used to calculate the Consumer Price Index, inflation is estimated to be about 1.4% points higher,” said central bank Head of Communications, Andrew Sesinyi. “This increase is part of that already included in the inflation calculation up to October 2012.”
After remaining unchanged at 7.1 percent unchanged during October and September, inflation is expected to spiral upward on the back of the rise in fuel costs and hike in bus fares.
Meanwhile, Administrative Officer at AT and T Monnakgotla, Maule Maoto, says the increase in bus fares is a welcome move.
However, he said despite the hike, public transport operators still have a thin cushion, bearing in mind the costs they incur daily as a result of various factors connected to their daily operation.
Maoto said the increase was inevitable because bus operators have to keep providing the public with service without compromising quality and continuity.
On the other hand, commuters have raised concern over the fuel and price increases, saying they are making the cost of living high and outrageous. The issue went viral, especially on Facebook, with mostly students using public transport complaining that they are being left out on issues affecting economic change.
“We were left out of talks with the government when the workers’ salaries were being increased. I have seen a lot of students dropping out because allowances are not enough to sustain the cost of living,” said Leo Hailey, President of the Student Representative Council of Botho College.
┬á“We get a low income and suffer at the end of month; the increase in bus fares has made it worse,” said Gabaiphewe Chakalisa, a student at the same college.