by Lindsay King

Editor's Note Edition 48

Unleaded

Lindsay King - Managing Editor
nwe pp.jpg
It’s time for a riddle: “It has happened again – and as before there was nothing any of us could do to stop it. It  happens a lot more often these days and affects each and every one of us – there are no exceptions.
It negatively affects our pockets and the economy more than anything else in the world. What is ‘it’?” 
If your answer is ‘another petrol price hike’, you’re spot on. Personally, the latest hike, which increased the cost of fuel by 81c per litre, was the cherry on top (I commute 90km per day to the office and back).
The latest beneficiary of a rather large chunk of my salary (the tax man excluded) is a demanding Texan oil baron I have never met. I imagine him to be a bit like JR Ewing, the scrupulous TV character of the 80s. 
Jokes aside, this is a very serious matter and considering the low income levels of most South Africans, I often ask myself where it‘s all going to end? In a country fighting for its food security, the increased petrol price has just added salt to the wounds of the already battling farming community. While most of us are thinking in terms of food becoming more expensive, the big concern is: will there eventually be food to buy at all? Listening to agricultural unions, the answer is a straightforward “no” – unless the government or other forms of help step in to subsidise petrol and diesel, so that farms can remain sustainably profitable. And I have not even touched on the effects on transportation costs to get the food to retail outlets ...
When I look at my budget, I question the purpose of earning an income, taking into account that most of my money goes to the greedy oil baron.
Is it not time for me to consider using public transport? But that’s easier said than done, bearing in mind our unreliable and inconvenient public transport system (from where I live, anyway). 
With a recent fuel increase in the US, talk show host Jay Leno joked: “Gas is so expensive SUV now stands for sport utility victim”. Considering the inflation rate and high earning power in the US, compared to South Africa, gas (as they call it) is comparatively cheap – what a choke!
The immediate effects of our expensive petrol was most visible the week after the increase, when my regular hour-and-a half journey to the office decreased by more than 30 minutes. If reduced traffic and less carbon emissions are good for the environment, sadly, we can argue that something good has come from the latest petrol hike.
In line with the smart city ‘theme’ of this issue, it makes perfect sense for us to strive to create living environments (cities) in which people can freely (and cheaply) move about to do their business. The last thing we should be worried about is having enough money for food – or to get to work.
I place all trust in our government (local, provincial and national) to pull out all the stops in its quest to establish a smart country with smart cities that are friendly to the environment and the people who dwell in them. I place my trust in our business and social communities to embrace, engage and join hands in a national vendetta against the ruthless baron. 
It’s not going to be easy and will take some time, but I patiently wait for that ‘smart’ day to arrive – in style and using
public transport.
In the meantime, I have no choice but to feed the baron and leave you to think about a quote I stumbled upon a while ago: 
“Natural resources are not something we inherit from our forefathers but something we borrow from our children”.
Write to the editor Lindsay King at lindsay.king@capemedia.co.za.
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