Lamu boat operators have now hiked fares amidst the standoff on 16 per cent VAT on fuel.
Travellers from and to Lamu and between the various adjacent islands in the archipelago have to pay an extra 35 per cent on their usual fares. Normally, a boat trip from Lamu island to the Mokowe jetty on the mainland costs Sh150 in a speed boat and Sh100 is a slow boat.
The prices have been hiked to Sh200 for the speed boat users and Sh150 for the slow boat users.
A hired speed boat from Lamu island to the Mokowe jetty normally costs Sh1,000, but with the new VAT, the same has now been doubled to Sh2000.
A normal trip for those arriving in Lamu town from Manda airport, just across the island, normally costs Sh150 in a speed boat and Sh100 in a slow vessel. They are now paying Sh200 for speed boats and Sh150 for the slow ones. The same distance in a hired speed boat goes for Sh500 but has now been doubled to Sh1,000.
Those bearing the brunt most are travellers to far-flung islands such as Mtangawanda,Kizingitini, Faza, Mkokoni, Pate and Kiunga, and other areas on the border of Lamu and Somalia.
A trip from Lamu island to Mtangawanda or Kizingitini would cost Sh500 in a speed boat, but that has doubled to Sh1,000.
The same distance in a slower boat would cost Sh300 but that has now gone up to Sh500.
Confirming the new fares yesterday, Lamu Boat Operators chairman Hassan Awadh said the new fares will remain so for as long as the VAT on petroleum products lasts.
“A normal 20 litre jerrican of petrol would cost us Sh2,500 but right now, we are getting it at Sh3,500.People need to see why we have to increase fares, otherwise we will make huge losses,” Awadh said.