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Fuel shortage in Kenya bites

Motorists queueing to fuel at a petrol station in Mombasa. [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Fuel shortage continued to bite, with counties reporting long queues at few available filling stations.

In Bomet, the management of Riva petrol station called in police to manage surging number of motorists after word went round that it had received supplies.

Queues stretching kilometers caused traffic snarl-ups, with police having difficulty controlling motorists. Some motorists crossed to Narok to buy fuel.

Mr Kipkoech Rono, a Bomet resident, said: “The shortage is taking a toll on innocent Kenyans and it is puzzling that government claims there is enough stock”.

In Kakamega, motorists struggled to get fuel at Ikonyero petrol station, as all others closed after running out of stock.

Mr Joshua Amakana, a resident, told The Standard he abandon his car at a petrol station and boarded a matatu to Kisumu. “I was getting late to work,” he said.

Long queues were witnessed in Mumias, Malava, Lumakanda, Mbale, Luanda, Kanduyi, Webuye and several towns across Western. “I have come from Chwele to look for super petrol and on reaching Bungoma town I was met by a long queue of other boda boda operators,” said Mr Nick Mukhwana, a boda boda operator.

There was chaos in Baringo’s Kabarnet town as fuel pumps ran dry forcing motorists to queue at the only station.

In Kericho, petrol prices hit a new high of Sh200 per litre. Matatu Owners Association Chairperson Simeon Kimutai said the effects of the shortage for the last five days were enormous and had forced some public service vehicles out of the roads. “The drivers are being forced to spend whole nights at petrol stations to refill,” he said.

Long queues were also witnessed at petrol stations in Thika, Nyeri, Karatina, Murang’a, Sagana, Nanyuki, Meru, Nanyuki and Embu, with several filing stations exhausting their stocks after continuous fuelling by panicky motorists.

At petrol stations in Thika and Nyeri, queues spilt into adjacent highways, causing gridlock. Peter Muigai, a motorist who was fuelling at a petrol station on the Mangú exit near Thika town at 9am, said he had been queuing since 6am.

In Kericho, petrol prices hit a new high of Sh200 per litre. [File, Standard]

“The frustrating thing is that motorbikes are the ones getting priority and I’m not sure we shall have anything when we finally get to the pump,” he said, with over 25 vehicles and two dozen motorcycles ahead of him.

At a petrol station off Gatanga road near Thika town, attendants were rationing the filling to Sh1,000 per motorist to ease the pressure on the queue. “We have been instructed to sell a maximum of Sh1,000 because everyone has an important need,” said Ms Agnes Warigia, an attendant.

Mr Jos Ndung’u, who had been driving to Nyeri from Maragua in Murang’a, said he was lucky to get fuel at Sagana. “My reserve gave me a lucky day not stalling.”

Nakuru also experienced heavy traffic as the queues spilt over to the streets.

Scenes of stalled vehicles along major roads and drivers running with jerrycans were common. “I checked three petrol stations between Kinungi and Naivasha... I had to drive more economically to ensure the vehicle gets me to Nakuru,” said Gerald Mugo, a matatu driver.

The Standard caught up with a Nakuru policeman attached to the traffic department armed with a 10-litre jerrycan. The officer, below the rank authorised to speak to media on record, had taken the jerrycan from a trucker whose vehicle had stalled in the middle of the Nakuru-Eldoret highway, causing a traffic snarl-up.

Mr Patrick Kibet, a motorist, risked spending the night in Nakuru after he missed fuel in Keringet and Molo as he headed for a family event in Gilgil.

In rural areas, smaller petrol stations, despite being in business, rationed. “At Keringet, I was limited to Sh2,000 to ensure other motorists got a share. I hoped to get fuel in Nakuru, where I got stuck in a long queue hopelessly,” said Kibet.

Motorists in Kisumu and Nyamira, the few petrol stations that had fuel, several motorists and boda boda operators queued to purchase fuel even as they complained bitterly over the shortages.

In the city, only three petrol pumps sold fuel. A worker at Total told The Standard that theirs had run out in the morning but they were optimistic about getting another supply in the course of the day. “We are optimistic that the situation will change in the coming days,” he said.

Motorists queueing to buy fuel at a Shell petrol station along Nakuru-Nairobi highway, April 3, 2022. [Harun Wathari, Standard]

Some motorists claimed petrol stations hiked fuel prices by Sh5, defying the directive on prices issued by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority.

Yesterday, Matatu owners in Kisumu were exploring introducing new fares.

Mr Evans Andala, Kisumu Matatu Owners Association, said some of their members withdrew vehicles from the roads because of the difficulty in getting fuel. “We will have to talk because the situation is worsening and is likely to have an impact on the rest of the economy,” he said.

Mr Andala admitted that fares in some routes had gone up as motorists crafted ways to survive. “In some routes where fare was Sh600, it is now Sh800,” he said.

The situation has been worse in Kisii town, with most stations lacking fuel for the last four days. Motorists have only been able to access fuel at Shell and Total stations.

[Story by Omelo Juliet, Jackline Inyanji, Yvonne Chepkwony, Gilbert Kimutai, Nikko Tanui, Ndungu Gachane, Kennedy Gachuhi, and Harold Odhiambo]