So he is finally touching on fuel this week. This is the all relevant topic these days and I was getting mad that he could not write on fuel. He needs to bring column topics that are relevant to the times. Finally, he has seen sense and he is writing on fuel.
This article is actually long overdue. I can hear some of you mumbling, and perhaps rightly so. But you see, this column is objective and politics-free. So I avoid writing on topics that are politically controversial.
Well, for all I care, I will write on how the fuel scarcity has affected our personal finances and family life. What with the huge black market fuel rates? What about the cost of time spent on the queues? What about the frustrations of fuel running out when you are just two cars away from the pump yet you have been queuing for over six hours?
The monetary costs (for which I care) are obviously enormous. But shall you nevertheless allow me to share something that may interest you. Never mind if at the end of the article you will think Ã¢â‚¬Å“he just wasted my time.Ã¢â‚¬ÂÃ‚Â Well, we will be in the same boat, because I will also have wasted my time writing for you when I should have been out there looking for fuel.
So what prompted me to write on this topic?
Well, a couple of weeks ago, I completely run out of fuel, but I still had to go somewhere in town for an important appointment. I decided I was going to take public transport. Close to my area, there are some bicycle taxis (kabaza as they call them in my locality). So I jumped on one. I paid K50 ($0.30). Getting to the bus stop, I jumped into a minibus. I paid K150 ($0.90). I then walked from where the minibus dropped me to my destinationÃ¢â‚¬â€some 10 minutes of walking.
In monetary terms, this translated into K400 ($2.40) of expenditure for the round trip (of course I did not monetise the small discomfort in dangling my legs on the kabaza, the time spent walking and the bit of sweatingÃ¢â‚¬â€thanks to my deodorant). But here was a huge saving lesson that I wish to share with you. I normally spend K1 000 ($6) on fuel for the round trip for the same journey when I use my vehicle (this is pricing on fuel from the filling station not black market). WhatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s more? I felt healthier walking than sitting behind the wheel.
You see, I noted from this that one can make a good saving (apart from being healthier) if they left their cars at home and used public transport or just walking (if they can). Hey, I am not underrating the fuel problems and pushing you to walk as an alternative. I know for a fact that walking or taking public transport is more fun and rewarding when you do it out of choice not being forced by circumstances.
Furthermore, it can sometimes be almost impossible to walk or take a bicycle ride, especially when you have three children to drop and pick from school. The bottom line, however, is that we need to adapt and find mechanisms of coping with the situation. Until the situation normalises, it canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t be business as usual.
So when the fuel situation normalises, and I can bet government is working hard at this, do consider taking public transport if you can. Trust me, factoring out context, it is almost always far much cheaper than using own vehicles. Of course, there is the usual an opportunity cost of losing the convenience and comfort of travelling in your own vehicle at the rate and time you wish. But economically, you will surely win. You can free some resources for that house you are building or for your nieceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s school fees.
When tough times hit, the tough gets going with even more saved money. Fare thee well colleagues!