Lower prices immediately, say leaders in fuel cost hike backlash

Motorists stuck in traffic along Kenyatta, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina,Standard]

The skyrocketing fuel prices continued to draw criticism from Kenyans and leaders from across the political divide.

At a time when the country's politics is fractured due to intensifying 2022 campaigns,  politicians have called out in unison for the government to review the situation.

Deputy President William Ruto asked the Energy committee to address the steep rise in fuel prices, saying it will translate into a general increase in the cost of living.

“This is mistaken in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he explained.

Ruto asked public officers to get to work and offer the right advice to the Government so that the “right decisions on people issues are made”.

“We must team up and manage this situation that threatens to go out of hand,” he added

ODM leader Raila Odinga, Kanu Chairman Gideon Moi and  ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi also called for the lowering of fuel prices.

“Kenyans who have been struggling to put food on the table since the onset of the pandemic now stand to have their collective plight worsened by the increased fuel prices,” said Raila.

“The prices should be lowered immediately to cushion the ordinary mwananchi.”

Already, public transport operators have said they will increase fares by 10 to 20 per cent starting today.

As a result, Speaker Kenneth Lusaka has directed Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter and his Petroleum and Mining counterpart John Munyes to appear before the Senate on Tuesday to explain the skyrocketing prices.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) has similarly protested against the increment, warning that the government was stoking the fire of unrest.

Secretary General Francis Atwoli said Cotu was opposed to the increase and encouraged the government to come up with alternative means to raise taxes that do not punish Kenyans.

“Considering the domino effect of fuel prices on consumer goods, transport, hardware and other essential and basic commodities, the move by Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) can only be seen as a precursor to social unrest,” said Atwoli.

Meanwhile, a section of United Democratic Alliance (UDA) members in North Rift, who are also farmers, said the prices will affect agricultural production and transportation to markets.

Speaking to the press in Eldoret yesterday, the members threatened to go to the streets in protest if the government fails to heed their grievances.

“Everyone knows that Rift Valley is the bread basket of the country. Increasing fuel prices at this time when coronavirus pandemic is ravaging the country will permanently affect our maize business because as farmers, we cannot afford production and transportation costs," said gubernatorial aspirant Jonathan Bii.