The 16 per cent VAT on petroleum products was Monday headed for a crisis as fuel distributors refused to collect stocks from depots as COTU sued the government and matatus staged boycotts in some parts of the country.
“No loading of fuel at the depots countrywide for downstream outlets,” read a tweet by Kenya Motorists Association accompanied by a picture of parked fuel tankers.
After an early morning meeting, the distributors said they were in solidarity with motorists’ call for a total fuel boycott.
Activist and Okiya Omtatah also filed a matter in court to stop the tax.
In various parts of Nakuru town, transport was paralysed as matatu operators protested the implementation of the new fuel levies. Matatus, taxis and bodaboda operators blocked streets and roads with their empty vehicles.
The demonstrators led by Nakuru town Matatus operators Chairman Abdul Noor called for the immediate resignation of National Treasury CS Henry Rotich over the price increase.
Last week, Parliament passed an amendment on the 2013 Finance Bill, pushing the slapping of 16 per cent on petroleum products to September 1, 2020. It was moved by Suna East MP Junet Mohammed (ODM).
In 2013, the same law was frozen until 2016 and then 2018. The 2018 amendment is before President Uhuru Kenyatta who will either reject it, send it back to parliament with amendments or sign it into law, reversing the price it. The matter is therefore clearly beyond Rotich.
"The National Assembly should immediately start the process of impeaching CS Rotich if he doesn't voluntarily resign. His move is in total disregard of the National Assembly which represents the voice of all Kenyans," said Noor.
Noor blamed the treasury for the current woes saying some policies were poorly formulated leaving the country at the mercy of its lenders.
“The government has over-borrowed until the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is the one giving directives on how to run the country. The treasury should have advised the government accordingly but failed to do so,” said Noor.
Mololine operations Manager David Kahiga said they were forced to hike the charges as they would no longer comfortably operate at the same fare charges with the hiked fule prices.
In Taita-Taveta County residents and leaders said the hefty fuel tax should have been delayed as the cost of living and food prices had been skyrocketing at alarming levels. Taveta Senator Jones Mwaruma noted that the increase in fuel tax would lead to a rise in electricity and basic necessities.
“We are challenging the government to rescind its decision of effecting the 16 percent tax on fuel as the move will make life unbearable to the poor Kenyans,” noted the Senator.
Fuel hike affects transport in Eldoret
In in Eldoret, Uasin Gishu County, hundreds of passengers were on Monday stranded as transport operators increased fares to various destinations. Some passengers opted to cancel their travel after learning that fares had increased by as much as Sh300 shillings.
At Great Rift Shuttle services, there were very few passengers after the service increased its fares from Sh800 to Sh1,000 for passengers travelling to Nairobi.
“We have lost a lot of customers because of the hiked fares. Our customers are not willing to pay the current fares," said Catherine Wangechi, one of the attendants at the shuttles that operate between Eldoret and Nairobi.