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04.05.2006 Editorial

Fuel Price Increases

The long-awaited increases in fuel prices are now here and they are bound to draw complaints from a section of the public. That is to be expected, since nobody welcomes price increases as a piece of pleasant news.

It is even more worrying when the increases concern fuel, because of their cascading effect on all other goods and services.

However, the stark truth is that, as a country, we do not produce crude oil and so for as long as the producers continue to hike their prices, price increases will be inevitable.

The greater danger, therefore, is not the price increases but the nation having no supply of fuel, compelling everything to grind to a halt.

To avert that situation, it is important that motorists adopt some conservation methods, where possible. Under the circumstances, private car users, for instance, must begin to see how best they can conserve fuel.

There are many private car users who use their cars even for short distances they could easily walk.

Besides, motorists need to ensure the efficient performance of their engines so that they do not consume so much fuel.

Consequently, if their engines should be fine tuned, they must be done without delay.

It is important that now that the oil marketing companies (OMCs) are required to display their prices on notice boards, consumers will be able to make their choice as to where to buy their fuel from.

The competition that will flow from the oil firms setting their prices will make buyers of fuel make choices after weighing the price differentials between one firm and another.

Happily, the OMCs cannot exceed the approved margin. Consequently, we anticipate that there will be healthy competition among them and that will be to the benefit of passengers or motorists.

In our daily shopping for goods and services, consumers make choices, depending on the level of their economic power. Of course, some may prefer to buy a product from a place where it sells at a higher price.

Evidently, when many people flock to a particular firm because its products are cheaper, the other operators may be compelled to reduce theirs and the benefit will go to the consumer.

Another critical area is that there should be a sustained effort to improve upon our public transportation system. We recognise the effort that is being made in that direction, but we think more needs to be done.

When members of the public are assured that if they miss one bus there will be another in a couple of minutes, they will rely on public transport.

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