Kenyans' cry of pain: Mixed reactions over latest fuel price hike

Mr Karakacha said just like EPRA blamed the fuel increase on inflation, they also had no option but to increase the fares.

"As businessmen, as inflation goes up, we also have to increase so that we do not operate at a loss," he said.

He said they have been spending around Sh14,000 to fill a 33-seater tank and with the increase, it will go to around Sh16,000. He added that the cost of operating a 14-seater matatu would also increase as the price of diesel had shot up by Sh17 per litre.

Karakacha appealed to the government to sit down with matatu operators and chart a way forward on how to reduce the cost of doing business.

MOA Chief Executive Officer Patricia Mutheu said public transport is a key sector that employs many Kenyans and with the rise in fuel prices, most stakeholders might opt out.

"This is a cry to the government that we need a serious national stakeholders' meeting on matters of public transport because we are the pushers of the economy and the moment we push the tax increment to the commuters, life becomes unbearable," said Ms Mutheu.

Importers and exporters at the Coast also said the fuel price increase will force them to adjust the charges of transporting goods upwards.

Custom agents interviewed said importers and transporters will pass the extra cost to the importers, which will ultimately fill in the cost of essential goods and services.

Kenya Transporters Association (KTA) CEO Mercy Ireri said the increase will eat into the profit margins of big transporters who have bidding contracts on the freight arrived at based on the previous fuel prices.


"It is not going to be easy for the transporters who have already signed a contract of transporting goods based on the price of the fuel at the time the contract was being signed," said Ms Ireri.

Matatu Owners Association chairman Albert Karakacha announced that their members would increase fares by 20 percent on September 15, 2023. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The average transport for a 20ft container from Mombasa to Nairobi by road is approximately Sh66,950, while the average transport for a 40ft container from Mombasa to Nairobi by road is Sh87,550.

Ken Mayaka, a transporter, told The Saturday Standard that the freight is expected to increase by at least Sh20,000 depending on the final destination of a container.

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Coast branch Chief Executive James Kitavi said although the impact could not be quantified immediately, it was bound to affect many businesses.

"Although I cannot talk about the impact because fuel prices went up yesterday, it is clear that it will lead to an increase in the cost of electricity and this will affect many manufacturers and traders," said Kitavi.

In Rift Valley, traders said the increase will make life unbearable.

"The increase in fuel is just ridiculous, it shows that the government is not in touch with the reality on the ground. How do they want us to survive?" said Peter Kimutai, a businessman in Nakuru City.

Millicent Njeri, who works at a five-star hotel in Naivasha, said she was barely surviving on her heavily taxed salary, while Central Rift Matatu Owners Association chairperson Stephen Muli said this is the highest-ever fuel price increase.

Expect fuel prices to rise by Sh10 every month, says Moses Kuria

However, Lands Cabinet Secretary Zachary Njeru defended the move by the government to increase the prices of fuel. He said the hike has been caused by the increase of prices in the international market.

"We import 100 per cent of our fuel, of which prices are determined by the international market. The government had no other choice but to increase the prices. It is not only in Kenya but worldwide," said Njeru.

In Kisii, ODM National Treasurer Timothy Bosire said the government was misleading Kenyans about the increase in fuel prices.

"Elsewhere, this could be ground enough for one to resign. Fuel prices spiralling high, hurting the economy; raising poverty levels and sinking hustlers' hopes. Many of these taxes are hurting economic growth. It's clear that the country is being led in the wrong direction," said Bosire.

Poverty level

Kisii Woman Representative Dorice Donya said the government has to come up with strategies to cushion Kenyans from the high cost of living.

"Everything is being taxed. It doesn't make sense to increase the cost of fuel when the prices of basic commodities are way above what they earn," said Donya.

Boda boda riders and a section of traders said they were angry with the new hike in fuel prices.

"It is what determines the prices of goods. We plead with the President to do everything possible in his powers to bring down fuel prices", Ray Mandela a businessman in Migori said.

In Kisumu, stakeholders in the transport sector called for the reintroduction of fuel subsidy that had been abolished by the Kenya Kwanza government.

Shem Ochuodho who is the Association's Vice Chairperson decried what he described as heavy taxation in the energy sector which he believes is the reason for the high fuel prices.

In Kitale, boda boda riders said they will charge Sh80 for town service within Kitale, Sh100 for boda boda service from Kitale to Kibomet, which is four kilometres from the town.

An official at North Rift Shuttle told the Saturday Standard that they are revising the transportation cost following the new fuel prices.

"We are still charging Sh1,600 from Kitale to Nairobi, but the management is revising the transportation cost following the increased fuel prices," the official said.

Those travelling from Kitale to Lodwar were asked to pay Sh1,500 from the previous Sh1,300. PSVs plying between Kitale and Bungoma charged Sh450 from Sh350.

Residents faulted the William Ruto-led government for making life unbearable and burdening them.

In Kakamega, the County Head of pastors and bishops Julius Abungana feared that the obvious ripple effect of the rise in cost of living because of the fuel hike would hurt people mentally.

He said the country's poverty level would rise beyond the current 16.1 per cent (2023/2024) as many households would hardly afford basics like flour, cooking oil, sugar and bread whose prices have shot up.