Motorists told to park their cars on roads today to protest fuel price increase

Motorists with their lights on stuck in traffic along Nairobi's Uhuru Highway during the short rains in Nairobi,April 4th,2018. They are planning a protest on Wednesday to oppose new VAT on fuel. [File, Standard]

A lobby group has rallied motorists to blockade major highways nationwide this morning to protest against fuel price increments.

Motorists Association of Kenya (MAK) has asked motorists to park their cars on the highways from 7:30 am to 10:30 am to disrupt traffic to express their displeasure at impending price adjustments.

The new tax will increase fuel prices fuel prices by up to Sh17, which most motorists feel is unfair considering that the pump prices are already high.

MAK Chairman Peter Murima said that roads designated for cars to be parked in Nairobi include Waiyaki way, Thika Super highway, Mombasa road, Lang’ata road, Jogoo road, Ngong road and in the Central Business District (CBD).

The protest is also set to take place in other major towns in the country.

“The 16 per cent is unnecessary. We at Motorist Association of Kenya strongly oppose the government plan to charge 16 per cent value-added tax (VAT) per litre on fuel. The move to raise pump prices to a record Sh130.15 per litre is brutal as it will swindle we who drive our hard-earned money,” said Murima.

He added that MAK has, therefore, resolved to resist the injurious action in any way possible.

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The VAT is a key financial condition prescribed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for Kenya to improve domestic revenues and tame the mounting public debt.

Motorists will tie a yellow ribbon on their vehicles and stick protest stickers during the period of the protest.

According to Murima, vehicle owners consume a combined Sh15 million litres of petrol and diesel daily. This means the harsh price increase of Sh17.9 per litre will rob motorists a whopping Sh268.5 million on daily basis.

He said that the new tax will badly burden the already heavily taxed vehicle owners. Tax on one litre alone will amount to Sh70 per every litre, the highest anywhere on earth.

He held that this will not only hurt car owners but also other citizens as it will contribute to the collapse of the economy.

“Already, some public vehicles have raised fare,the price of commodities will go high because the cost of transporting them will also rise, this is going to affect all of us negatively,” Murima said.

He complained that targeting motorists alone every time to fill government deficit and wastage is the worst form of discrimination. In his view, Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) should raise the tax to all Kenyans and not a section of Kenyans every time.

“We are being punished only on the basis of owning a vehicle.It is immoral to subject fuel consumers to reduce budget deficits or paying of the national debt pile-ups,” he said.

After the protest, motorists will take their petition to the president, parliament, and treasury. The Association is also planning a similar protest next Wednesday if no action is taken.

This strategy was once used in Germany to protest against fuel price increase. That day, motorists left their cars on roads and left for home. It remains to be seen whether this will work in Kenya.

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