Paralysis as Kenyans protest fuel prices

Friday, September 17th, 2021 00:08 | By
Pump attendant. Photo/People Daily/Library

Normal flow of transport was paralysed and businesses disrupted in parts of the country as Kenyans protested the unprecedented increase in fuel prices.

At the border towns of Busia, Malaba, Isebania and Namanga, hundreds of motorists crossed to neighbouring countries for the commodity which was going for as much as Sh30 lower than the pump prices on the Kenyan side.

In Nairobi, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) vowed to sponsor amendments to the law to check the arbitrary increase in pump prices as leading politicians called on the government to relook into the fuel taxation regime.

In Migori County, transport on the busy Migori-Isebania highway was paralysed as angry motorists took to the streets to pro- test the price increase.

They barricaded the road, which links Kenya with neighbouring Tanzania, as police watched helplessly. On Wednesday, regulator, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) increased the cost of petrol by Sh7.58 per litre to push prices past Sh130 per litre.

At the Namanga, Busia and Malaba border points, long queues of Kenyan motorists were seen snaking into Tanzania to buy the commodity. A motorist, Jackson Katukei, told People Daily a litre of petrol was going for Sh122 in Tanzania compared to Sh134 on the Ke- nyan side.

“If fuelling is costing Sh134 here and just across is cheaper, you will definitely cross the border to cut costs. Life is becoming expensive and everybody is looking for means to cut costs,” he said.

“I am so happy that there is seamless movement at the border point and you can easily drive across and fuel. There is no restriction of movement that requires you to have a permit to cross over to fuel,” said Maina.

Mohammed Kizito, a pump attendant at Busia Uganda, said he had served more than 100 Kenyans since day-break with a litre of petrol going for Sh110 as opposed to the Kenyan side where the same was going for between Sh137 and Sh140.

“They are filling their tanks on this side of the border; they says it is too expensive to fuel in Kenya,” said Kizito.

Kennedy Omondi, a matatu driver, said: “If the government does not reduce the price, we will continue fuelling on the Ugandan side.”

ODM leader Raila Odinga decried the increment saying: 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 in- creased fuel prices.

The prices should be lowered immediately to cushion the ordi- nary wananchi. Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi said the high cost of fuel was pushing Kenyans to the economic edge.

He said the increased pump price will affect the cost of production, which will eventually lead to high pricing of goods and services.

“The government must understand that this is not the time to push resilient Kenyans to the edge of the cliff. It is a time to help them navigate through the high cost of living. Hiking the pump-price only helps to increase inflation that leads to a snow- ball effect on the cost of food, transport, electricity and manufacturing,” he said.

ODM lawmakers led by Opiyo Wandayi said the surge in fuel prices had left Ke- nyans in an awkward situation.

“Kenyans have remained silent as fuel prices have snaked upwards from Sh61 just before the last General Election until now, with the latest increase having set an all time record. Kenya has never before seen this kind of inflation in the cost of energy. Enough is enough,” read a statement from the MPs.

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