On Wednesday, 6 December 2017, the price of petrol in SA increased by 71 cents/litre. At the same time the price of diesel increased by 68cents/lire BUT household paraffin increased by 98cents/litre.
Those of us who have our own vehicles will probably mutter and moan, reduce our travel a bit or share transport with other colleagues or parents of school children. Generally, life will continue as before and we will simply absorb the extra costs. I accept that there are those for whom this price increase will have a very serious effect on their daily lives but it is the effect of the increase for paraffin which will affect the majority of the population.
The very poor rely completely on paraffin for their primus stoves as the cost of electricity is outside of any budget they might consider. My domestic told me this past week that although she has an electric stove and access to electricity she hardly uses these due to cost. She relies on her primus stove for most of her cooking and heating of water.
Let’s do a few sums. In our home there are just 2 of us and we are very careful on our use of electricity but we pay an average of R380 per month with an average cost of R15/day. Now Eskom is asking for a 20% increase for 2018! Imagine how the current cost, let alone the requested increase, affects those who receive the minimum wage or are unemployed. This is why they have to rely on paraffin.
So many of us who do not use paraffin for daily basics do not give it or its price increase a thought. If the paraffin is finished and so is the money one cannot even have a cup of tea let alone a plate of food.
Beyond the cost of paraffin the increase in price of both petrol and diesel has a seriously detrimental effect on the very poor. Their travel costs automatically increase as does the price of staple foods. This often means that the children go to bed and to school hungry.
As an employer find out from your employee(s) what the increase in paraffin means to him/her. Ask yourself if what you pay is right and fair or can you help in any other way to make life easier for them. As they likely have pre-paid electricity units why not buy some as a gift. Another option would be to give her/him the opportunity to cook a meal on your stove.
Whatever you do or do not do, please NEVER forget how the increase of diesel and paraffin have on the lives of the poor.