Soaring fuel costs hammer drivers

'It's forced me to put prices up'

JUSTIN BUTLER
Last updated 05:00 06/09/2012
Wally Rongonui
JONATHAN CAMERON/Fairfax NZ

FEELING PINCHED: Energy City Cabs manager Wally Rongonui ponders what the latest fuel price rises mean for business. The price of 91 octane soared to a record high last month, reaching $2.23 a litre.

tdn taxi stand
JONATHAN CAMERON
Taxi manager Wally Rongonui is worried about the impact of rising fuel prices on his business.

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Taranaki businesses are beginning to feel the pinch of near-record fuel costs and consumers could be next in line.

Petrol prices rose 12c a litre in August, peaking at $2.23 - 1c higher than the previous record set in July last year - before settling back at about $2.20 for a litre of 91 octane.

Businesses say they are already struggling to absorb the costs and if petrol continues to rise, the price they charge for their services will have to go up too.

Naki Sprint Urgent Couriers owner Greg Prouse said in eight years of business petrol prices had doubled.

"It's gone up so much in this last month that it's forced me to put prices up," Mr Prouse said.

"It's the second-biggest cost to my company next to wages."

Naki Sprint had raised its charges 6 per cent and limited the use of its diesel van in response to rising fuel prices.

Energy City Cabs manager Wally Rongonui said there could be an increase in taxi charges if prices rose again.

"We're trying to absorb it, but it's getting harder and harder," said Mr Rongonui, who has worked in New Plymouth's taxi industry for about 15 years.

New Plymouth District Council procurement manager Murray Keast said fuel prices were taking a toll on some council services.

"We've got a fleet [of vehicles] that are obviously impacted . . . mowers, trucks, and cars."

Mr Keast said the council was taking steps to become more fuel efficient.

According to AA PetrolWatch figures, diesel rose 6c during August and now sits at about $1.57 a litre, some way off its record of $1.94 a litre set in July 2008.

Hooker Pacific's Taranaki manager, Wayne Mehrtens, said to cater for fluctuations in prices at the pump the haulage company employed a "fuel adjustment factor" which was applied to its charges to recover diesel costs.

Justin Butler is a Witt journalism student

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