FUEL prices are expected to reach a record high of up to R15 per litre this year, sparking fears of dire consequences for consumers, the transport industry and the local economy.
Industry insiders believe that should prices rise to such an extent, consumers will feel the brunt of the impact – having to fork out more for food and other consumer goods – but that smaller transport businesses could also buckle under the added pressure.
Automobile Association spokesman Gary Ronald warned that, due to global economic challenges, motorists could be in for a "rough ride” this year, having to fork out the most they have ever paid for fuel.
He said that year-on-year, taking into account hikes and decreases, motorists have been paying on average about R2/l more on fuel.
Ronald added this year looked particularly bleak due to economic challenges, especially in the United States, Europe and China, that are likely to affect oil prices dramatically.
He said South African motorists could expect the price of a litre of fuel to peak at about R14 in 2013, but it could even go up to R15, depending on politics and economic recovery worldwide.
"This means that the average motorist, with a vehicle with a 60-litre fuel tank, will pay about R120 more when filling up each time.”
Last year motorists paid between R1.35 and R1.40 more for a litre of fuel. At the start of 2011, fuel cost between R8.46 and R8.73 per litre, but by the end of last year motorists had to spend between R10.32 and R10.66 per litre.
Ronald said 2009, marred by similar pressures faced today, was a difficult year for motorists, due to the global economic downturn, which saw fuel prices start out as low as R5.68, but then soar to R8.05.
"If things don’t change, we are going to sit with a similar situation this year.”
He added that the impact of any fuel price hike was devastating on businesses and consumers.