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Fuel crisis persists even as truckers resume work

By Macharia Kamau | January 26th 2017 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Motorists queue at a petrol station in Nairobi yesterday. There was panic in buying of fuel as most motorists stocked up, fearing a prolonged shortage. [PHOTO: GEORGE NJUNGE/Standard]

The fuel supply crisis gripping Nairobi and its environs is expected to bite on today before normalising tomorrow.

Oil marketing companies yesterday began evacuating petroleum products from their depots on Nanyuki Road in Industrial Area yesterday, but normalcy is not expected until tomorrow due to a backlog.

The petroleum products supply system experienced disruptions on Monday and Tuesday following a strike by some transporters.

The truckers, who were protesting a dusk-to-dawn ban on transporting fuel, had blocked access to all depots on Nanyuki Road.

This affected retail outlets across Nairobi, which had not received stocks since last week Saturday before the strike started on Monday.

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The truckers on Tuesday afternoon agreed to resume work after talks with senior Energy ministry officials, including Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter. They, however, requested the ministry for a structured agreement.

Despite the truckers resuming work on Tuesday evening, it might take time before all petrol stations regain normal fuel supply.

A spot check by The Standard yesterday morning showed many retailers were running low on supply, which triggered panic buying by some motorists, leaving some of the retailers without super petrol by yesterday afternoon.

Petroleum Institute of East Africa (PIEA) Chairman Powell Maimba said while not all transporters had gone on strike, it had affected supply for all oil marketing companies in Nairobi and surrounding areas as the striking truckers had blocked access to all depots on Nanyuki Road.

He added that oil markers were as of yesterday receiving fuel at their outlets and expected the situation to normalise in the course of today or tomorrow. “They (the striking transporters) blocked the terminals such that the others could not access products. This affected most retail stations in Nairobi,” said Maimba.

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“Deliveries are taking place now, but the supply situation might take awhile because of the backlog. The last time the marketers took delivery was Saturday before the strike began on Monday. Most stations do not have capacity to hold products that can take them for more than two or three days.”

Industry regulator, Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) said it expected the situation to have normalised by yesterday evening.

The agency, however, said it would continue enforcing the regulations banning night transportation of petroleum products.

“The transporters have resumed work and all petroleum loading points are now operational. Fuel operations will normalise by today (Wednesday),” said the regulator in a statement.

“The law still exists and cannot be suspended. Stakeholders will have to work within the confines of the law as the commission embarks on the revision process to accommodate all the emerging issues.”

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