Fuel prices at a Shell Petrol Station in Uganda where boda boda operators are fueling their motorbikes. Petrol goes at Ush4.080 (Ksh110) and diesel Ush3,750 (Ksh102). [Ignatius Odanga/Standard]
As fury rages on over fuel price in the country, boda boda operators in border towns of Busia and Malaba have found a better way of survival.
A spot check by The Standard reveals that those the riders are sneaking into Uganda to fuel their bikes where the price is cost-effective.
In Uganda Petrol is being sold Sh110 while diesel Sh102 per litre compared to Busia where same is going at Sh131 and Sh118 respectively.
The 16 per cent VAT was effected on Sunday Bernard Osebe has been fueling across the border daily. “The price in Uganda is affordable compared to Kenya, there is no reason for me to fuel in Kenya when Uganda is less just near,” he said.
Those with motorbikes are not subjected to rigorous clearance process thus easy for them to access Uganda. “I am saving Sh20 in every litre of petrol I buy in Uganda, what is happing in our country right now is robbery without violence by the government,” he added.
Boda boda is the largest sector that has employed over 10,000 people. Most of them operate in Busia and Malaba and move to fuel in Uganda denies the government much needed revenue.
The county chairman of boda boda operators Erick Makokha said he will continue rallying his colleagues to buy fuel in Uganda unless President Uhuru Kenyatta fails to ascend to that bill.
“We cannot continue suffering, the solution is to cross the border, fuel our bikes and come because. It takes us less than five minutes to do that then you are back to operate,” Makokha said.
Bicycle operators on their part are making a killing from hiked fuel price. “Many people are now opting for us and not motorbikes for fear of being overcharged,” said Justus Ochieng’i.
A taxi driver Michael Gombe lamented that they have lost their clients because of the fuel hike. As boda boda operators continue to flock Uganda to fuel their bikes, Matatu operators have ruled out possibility of crossing to Uganda to fuel their vehicles.
In many occasions a Kenyan vehicle has to pay for gate pass fee and this according to a matatu driver Moffat Ouma is costly and time wasting.
“We shall have to pay for gate pass and right now Ugandan police officers are aware that fuel prices in Kenya have gone up so they won't allow local PSVs access Uganda,” said Ouma.
Ouma said the government has created enmity between Matatu operators and passengers. “Commuters do not understand that fuel price has gone up, they think we are robbing from them,” he added.
The fare from Busia to other towns increased drastically. From Busia to Mumias where people have been paying Sh150, yesterday passengers matatus were charging them Sh200.
Initially passengers paid Sh250 to Bungoma however after introduction of 16 percent VAT on fuel they were paying Sh300. From Busia to Kisumu commuters are paying Sh350 up from Sh300 that was charged initially.