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The July petrol price hike has hit consumers hard with a 26 cents per litre increase on 95 octane petrol and 24 cents a litre increase in the diesel price. August brings worse news as there is another petrol hike expected which will result in a further 25 cents per litre increase.

While it seems like South Africans are being hit the hardest, the government blames the weak rand to dollar exchange rate, along with the rising price of crude oil. South Africans are already struggling financially to make ends meet but the increasing petrol prices and consequent increase in travelling prices will set them back further.

But it's not just the petrol price that increases, it has a knock-on effect making the transportation of goods more expensive, which causes a hike in food prices as 80% of grain is transported by road, and companies will be unable to cover these costs without raising the prices of their products.

The high prices of crude oil will also influence costs of fertiliser, pesticides and herbicides needed for crop farming. Neil Roets, the CEO of Debt Rescue, warns that this increases pressure on low income households that already struggle to cover their basic costs, saying, "There is not a glimmer of hope that the massive unemployment situation is going to resolve itself anytime soon, nor that the growing national debt is going to come down. More than half of consumers are three months or more in arrears with their repayments, and this figure is expected to keep climbing steadily as South Africans are getting deeper and deeper into debt."

Minister of Energy, Jeff Radebe, has addressed the problem by recommending motorists to avoid unnecessary travels, make use of car pooling and practice "economical driving techniques".

“The harsh reality is that consumers are saddled with the burden of a collective debt of more than R1,37-trillion in outstanding loans that have not been repaid and accounts that have not been settled," he said.

Does this mean aspiring to join the middle class bracket is just a hopeless dream and the reality is that we just need to survive?



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