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Matatus warn of higher fares as State, oil sellers in blame game

Boda boda operators queuing at a fuel station in Kabsabet, Nandi County, March 30, 2022. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Kenyans should brace for tougher times ahead, including paying higher fares, if the fuel crisis triggered by a squabble between oil marketers and the government persists.

Matatu operators have warned that would be inevitable to pass over the high cost to consumers if the crisis rolls on for a few more days.

This even as the government moved to assure Kenyans that it has adequate fuel for all, despite the obvious chaos witnessed across the country.

In a statement, Kenya Pipeline Company Managing Director Dr Macharia Irungu said they have more than 94 million litres of diesel, 13 million litres of kerosene and 23 million litres of jet fuel.

He however did not explain further the ensuing shortage that has sparked uproar among Kenyans.

“Kenya Pipeline Company would like to confirm that there are ample stocks of petroleum products in our system throughout the country to meet demand,” Irungu said.

However, Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) owned up to government delays in remitting compensation due to oil marketers arising from price stabilisation scheme and warned against hoarding the crucial commodity.

“Oil Marketing Companies, depot and retail station operators are hereby cautioned that in accordance with the Petroleum Act 2019, it is an offence punishable by law to hoard petroleum or to sell above the published price,” a statement from EPRA said.

Many parts of the country, including Nairobi, Central, Rift Valley, Nyanza and Western region have witnessed long lines in petrol stations as Kenyans scramble for the scarce commodity, whose prices have also gone up.

In other oil stations, there were no activities as the pumps remained dry.

And matatu operators are cautioning: “If the issue will not be addressed we will be forced to hike fares so as to cushion the sector,” Matatu Owners Chairman Simon Kimutai told The Standard.

“There will be hard effects in the matatu sector because we are the leading consumers of fuel, each matatu spends about 60 litres a day,” said Mutai.

The Matatu Welfare Association also said transport costs will go up.

“If the fuel shortage persists, commuters and those who rely on public service vehicles will suffer,” Matatu Welfare Association Chairman Dickson Mbugua said

On Saturday evening, motorists spent hours searching for fuel in petrol stations. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

City residents who spoke to Sunday Standard said some of them may have to walk to work if bus fares go up.

At the same time, motorists said they would seek alternative means to get to their workplaces if the fuel crisis persists.

A spot check by The Sunday Standard in the city centre established that some petrol stations were experiencing high demand with long queues while others did not have the fuel at all.

This has also sparked fear among travellers with some postponing their travels.

“Two people who had booked to travel to Kitale and Eldoret in the afternoon cancelled their plans over fears of fuel shortage, and we have been forced to sell their tickets,” Dan Wanje a staff of a matatu sacco plying Eldoret said.

Matatu owners chairman Mutai said some private petrol stations that have stock are already dictating the prices of fuel.

“If the shortage persists and the prices of fuels elevated, then the fares will automatically go up,” explained Kimutai

“People could start going into the black market to get the fuels which are very dangerous. On the other hand, there could be plans to increase the fuel prices and that is not good,” he cautioned. 

On Saturday evening, motorists spent hours searching for fuel in petrol stations.

Some of the petrol stations were restricting motorists from buying fuel worth more than Sh2,000 at a time.

In Siaya, hundreds of fishermen stranded at various petrol stations said they were barred from buying fuel using containers.

“It is very sad that motorists and motorcyclists are the only people allowed to buy petrol. We cannot row our boats to petrol stations for fueling,” said Omondi Oloo.

Some petrol stations were experiencing a high demand with long queues while others did not have the fuel at all. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Irine Ouma, a fish trader from Honge beach in Bondo sub-county said they were the hardest hit.

Ouma, who buys about 140 litres of petrol per day, said the crisis has affected their operations for the past week.

“The economy of this area depends on fishing and without our fishermen going into the lake, there will be no business,” said Ouma.

Another fisherman, Benard Okoth appealed to the government to intervene saying he spent more than six hours at the petrol station.

Usenge, a predominantly fishing town was deserted, with boats docked at the beach.

Bondo MP Gideon Ochanda challenged the Beach Management Unit (BMU) leaders to help the fishermen resume their operations which have been disrupted in the last week.