A fuel shortage has hit towns in Lamu county forcing motorists to dig deeper into their pockets to cope with the high cost of the commodity.
Towns that have been most affected by the shortage which entered its third day on Friday are Mokowe,Hindi,Mpeketoni,Witu and Lamu island.
Frustrated boda boda operators are quitting the trade saying they can no longer afford to keep up with the costly fuel.
Unscrupulous traders who have taken advantage of the situation are now selling the petrol at between Sh.200 and 300 a litre. The cost is more than double the normal price which goes for between Sh120 and 140 a litre.
Most petrol stations in the affected towns shut down for the last three days after they were unable to get supply of fuel from Mombasa depots.
Boda boda operators want the national government to explain why Lamu hasn’t received its fuel supplies.
Mokowe Boda Boda chairperson Peter Musembi said more than half of the boda boda operators in the town had since quit the business due to the fuel shortage.
“It's been three days and there is still no sign of fuel.Only a few people have it and they are selling it so expensively and many of us in this business cant afford.Buying a litre at Sh300 is abnormal.Thats why most have quit altogether,”said Musembi. The situation has seen a hike in transport costs.
Adan Yusuf,an operator in Mpeketoni says they now charge double for every distance covered so that they can be able to stay in business even with the shortage and subsequent high cost of fuel.
The move hasn’t been without consequences as many people have now shunned boda bodas for other alternative means of travel.
“We have been forced to double transport fares.Where we would charge Sh.50 now goes for Sh.100 and so forth.If we don’t do that,we can’t afford to stay in business.But now we have lost customers who find us expensive.They now prefer vehicles.We need the situation addressed,”said Yusuf.
Petrol dealer Mohamed Omar says they have no option but to sell the commodity expensively since they equally have to purchase it at a high cost from the distributors.
“The suppliers don’t bring us the fuel anymore and we have to make extra effort to get a little supply and when we do,its normally very expensive. We have to sell it at that same high cost if we intend to make any profit,its not deliberate and if things change,we lower the price too,”said Omar.