TOUGH TIMES

Brokers make a kill as fuel shortage persists in rural Kenya

Major players said to be hoarding as they anticipate a price increase this week.

In Summary

•Supply chain has improved with normalcy returning in major cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa.

•However, other towns including the country’s third biggest city-Kisumu are still lacking product, amid high demand.

Motorists queue to get fuel at Shell petrol station a long Kisumu-Kakamega road on April 4, 2022.
Motorists queue to get fuel at Shell petrol station a long Kisumu-Kakamega road on April 4, 2022.
Image: DANIEL OGENDO

Back-street dealers in rural towns are making a kill from re-selling petroleum products bought from major Oil Marketing Companies’ stations, with a litre going for up to Sh300.

While the supply chain has improved with normalcy returning in major cities such as Nairobi and Mombasa, majority of towns including the country’s third biggest city-Kisumu are still lacking product, amid high demand.

A number of bus companies and cargo transporters have grounded their fleet for lack of fuel, with hundreds of city residents who had travelled to the villages remaining stuck.

Private motorists are also struggling to get the precious commodity that is now being sold at exorbitant prices on ‘take-it-or leave-it’ terms by brokers, who are buying fuel in jerricans.

“I have bought five litres at Sh1,500 just to get me to Kisumu,” a motorist who spoke to the Star said.

This translates to Sh300 per litres.

Miccah Ochieng, a boda boda operator in Siaya, said he has had to stop his business because of lack of fuel.

At Ndere area, a few kilometres from Siaya town, Joseph Oduor’s motorbike runs out of fuel, he alights, shakes it, lets it down on the ground, picks it up and blows the tank.

This way, he assures his pillion they would get to the shopping centre near them where he can get another boda boda to complete his journey.

“Calm your horses you will get there,” he tells the client, “This is the worst we have seen on fuel but we try to survive.”

He has been buying a litre at between Sh170 and Sh300 since the shortage hit last week, an area where the set price by the Energy and Regulatory Authority (EPRA) is Sh135.46 for petrol, Sh116.64 (diesel) and Sh104.60 for kerosene.

Yesterday morning, there was only one petrol station that had fuel between Siaya town and Kisumu town.

It is the plight of thousands of motorists and businesses outside major towns across the country. 

This is despite the government and independent oil dealers reaching an agreement last Thursday that was meant to avail product to the group (independents) that serves the vast remote areas.

“The government will work to ensure fuel is available for independent players. This will ensure fuel is available I the whole country including the interior parts of the country,” a communiqué seen by he Star reads in part.

Yesterday, Petroleum Outlets Association of Kenya (POAK) national coordinator, John Njogu, said : “We started getting product Thursday but then we didn't get Friday..this means the pressure will be felt this weekend.”

Major players in the oil sector are said to be hoarding both old and new stocks, anticipating a price increase in this week’s monthly price review.

This is on high global crude prices. 

The country received 100 million litres of super petrol at the Port of Mombasa last Thursday, where Energy CS Monica Juma said the country was “reaching a point of normalcy”, on continued imports.

"We hope to settle our populations so that we do not spike anxiety for no apparent reason,” CS Juma said during an inspection tour of the new Sh40 billion new Kipevu Oil Terminal.

The terminal is currently on oil handling tests, ahead of commissioning by President Uhuru Kenyatta, expected before August.

Energy PS Andrew Kamau denied that there were price hikes for petroleum and petroleum products in the country, caused by the shortage.

On the question of why some fuel stations had oil while others lacked, the PS said that it all depended on what their logistics were.

EPRA is currently working on the monthly review with new prices expected on Thursday.

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