Nairobi News


Dry tanks, empty pumps: Motorists seek fuel in Somalia, Tanzania and Ethiopia

Motorists across the country are struggling to fill up their tanks as fuel shortage continues to bite. A spot check by the Nation shows that almost every county has been affected with Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu being the latest with empty pumps.

In Mombasa, motorists complained that the product was being sold at Sh136 per litre. In Kisumu, motorists parked their vehicles near petrol stations that had run out of fuel, hoping to be the first to obtain the commodity as soon as fresh deliveries are made.

At Shell near Kibuye market, there were long queues, though motorists were restricted to fuel worth Sh2,000.

In Kakamega, Busia and Migori, dealers have shut down operations. Motorists who had crossed the border to Sirare Town in Tanzania for cheaper fuel were hit with a price increase of petrol.

“I have been to all petrol stations in town but couldn’t buy any fuel for my vehicle. I have decided to use public transport and wait for the situation to normalise,” said Mr Ben Makokha from Butula.

Others in his situation – especially in Kisii – may not be lucky since matatu operators plying the Nyamira and Kilgoris route have hiked fares.

In Kisii, Tosha petrol station’s proprietor, Mr Ali Musa, is looking at a fuel crisis as his stock is running out. Mr Yusuf Abdi, a manager at Hass petrol station in Mumias, has no idea when he will receive his next supply of 10,000 litres.

Doubled their fares

“We usually order 30,000 litres of both petrol and diesel under normal circumstances. But we have been receiving between 5,000 and 10,000 litres due to the shortage,” said Mr Abdi.

In Bungoma, the crisis entered its ninth day yesterday as fuel stations favoured motorists spending more than Sh1,000 and Sh500 for boda bodas. Other motorists have had to fuel at Malaba border.

Matatus operating between Bungoma and Webuye have doubled their fares from Sh100 to Sh200.

In Bomet and Kericho, the shortage was on its fifth day as motorists braved long queues in petrol stations that had the commodity on Friday.  Shell and Total, which were the only ones that had supplies, exhausted the stocks quickly due to the high demand as smaller outlets hiked the prices by more than Sh10 per litre.

Super petrol in all the major outlets sold for Sh136.20, while diesel retailed for Sh117.40. Small stations sold petrol at between Sh144.99 and Sh149.99.

“It is illegal for operators to raise prices, especially in a crisis,” lamented Mr Peter Rono, a motorist in Bomet.

“It is becoming increasingly difficult to operate a motor vehicle due to high cost of fuel,” offered Mr Benard Koros in Kericho town.

Long queues

In Nandi, motorists parked their vehicles in a queue along the Kapsabet/Chavakali highway because their tanks were dry. In Eldoret town, motorists from Baringo, Nakuru, Nandi and Elgeyo-Marakwet counties lined up overnight at filling stations.

“I drove from Nakuru County when I heard there was fuel in Eldoret. I’ve been queueing since 5am and by all indications, I may spend the night here,” said Mr Douglas Meso, a boda boda operator. The queue was five kilometres long.

Mr Wyclife Lenji from Nandi Hills arrived in Eldoret at 4am and moved from one station to another seeking fuel but he had not been lucky by afternoon.

In Mt Kenya region, residents are staring at a possible hike in fares owing over fuel shortage in Embu, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Nyeri, Meru, Laikipia, Isiolo, Wajir and Mandera counties.

A survey by the Nation established that most of the petrol stations have not had fuel for at least three days. A litre of petrol here goes for Sh200.

“One feels restricted as you can’t travel where you want as you might run out of fuel and get stuck in the middle of nowhere,” said Mr Migwi Munene.

In Lafey and Elwak towns in Mandera, motorists sourced for fuel from Somalia while Takaba and Banisa towns are supplied from Ethiopia. Fuel from both countries is cheaper, with a litre of super petrol from Somalia going for Sh128, while the same from Ethiopia goes for Sh125.

Most motorists prefer fueling from Somalia. Long queues at filling stations were also witnessed in Wajir town over the weekend.