Taxis Push for Higher Fares on Fuel Price Rise

Taxi drivers are complaining that higher fuel prices are eating to profits because the public refuses to accept higher fares.

The price of 1 litre of fuel has risen by roughly K100 in the last month, according to U Soe Min Myo, a taxi driver living in North Dagon. Fuel prices vary depending on the brand – ranging from K640 to K700 a litre.

“It started last month with a slow increase, but now the price is clearly rising,” he said. “But although fuel prices are up passengers aren’t satisfied with higher fares. They always pay the same amount and don’t care about the rising fuel cost.”

Part of the reason for the rising price is a weakening currency. Much of the fuel used in Myanmar is imported in dollars, and the kyat has lost around 8pc of its value against the dollar since August.

The Central Statistic Organisation under the Ministry of Finance announced recently that the import price of diesel and petrol in kyat terms had risen 4pc and 10pc respectively between August and September.

For many taxi drivers, rental fees are another fixed cost. Those that do not own their cars pay fees to the owner, which are not adjusted for higher fuel prices.

U Min Min, a taxi driver from South Okkalapa township, said he rents his car by the month, and that the higher costs are hurting his profits. Yangon’s appalling traffic also means taxi drivers are not able to make as many trips as they used to, he added.

U Soe Min Myo said that around six months ago it was possible to make K40,000 a day. “But traffic takes up time and the petrol prices are higher,” he said. “Now I only make around K30,000, and sometimes as little as K20,000.”

Taxi drivers have long tried to convince passengers that higher fares are warranted during a hike in fuel prices, but say their customer base is suspicious of being taken for a ride.

“People think we always charge more than the fair price,” said U Mg Mg, a taxi driver from Yankin township. “So they always bargain and because we’re facing difficulties we have to accept the price they want to pay.”

Local teacher Ma Pan Ei Sithu is a regular taxi-user, and understands the drivers’ arguments that traffic and petrol should mean higher fares. But she thinks this claim is trotted out all too often, and does not appreciate drivers’ attempts to charge extra for things like aircon.

“They say traffic and petrol are the reasons for higher fares, and now they don’t turn on the air-conditioning but ask for more money if I want it on,” she said.

 

Source: Myanmar Times

 

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