E-mail campaigns are calling on South Africans to take action against the latest increase in petrol prices.

The petrol price was increased by 54 cents a litre on Wednesday, April 6. Gauteng motorists are now paying R9,96 per litre for 95 octane petrol and R9,48 per litre for diesel.

As fuel prices increase, e-mail and Facebook campaigns urging consumers to boycott the “two biggest overseas oil companies”, namely BP and Shell, have started to circulate, targeting young people.

First year accounting science students, Sasha Zimmirmann and Gladys Kubae, say putting pressure on overseas companies could work because “if less people demand it, then they would have to drop the prices”.

Their classmate Naeem Vawda disagrees. He says petrol is a necessity and people want it, so only a few consumers would join the campaign. “It wouldn’t have much effect on the prices,” he says.

The internet messages invite consumers to “join the resistance” by supporting “local is lekker” brands, such as Engen, Sasol and Excel.

Dewandre Lawrence, a 2nd year BA student who buys petrol from Shell because that is the closest garage to his house, says: “South Africa relies on overseas fuel.  Supply is not going to be enough for all of us [if consumers boycott overseas companies],” so the resistance is not a good idea. He also says he doesn’t want to use public transport.

A month ago Vuvuzela reported on how the rising petrol prices have adversely affected students’ lunch budgets. 

The Middle East political turmoil has been pushing up the fuel price but the increase in crude oil prices, still under recovery, is not only to blame.

The department of energy says the other reasons for the 54c hike are a 10c fuel levy, an 8c levy for the Road Accident Fund and a 7c increase in inland transport costs, due to tariff adjustments in the replacement of the Johannesburg-Durban petroleum pipeline.

The latest hike is the biggest single increase in two years.