Fuel shortage looms as truckers protest ban on night transport
A standoff between petroleum distributors and the government over implementation of a law setting fuel transit time, could plunge the country into a fuel crisis.
A meeting on Tuesday between Energy Cabinet Secretary Charles Keter, the Kenya Independent Petroleum Distributors Association (Kipeda) and other players in the sector ended in mixed resolutions as stakeholders insisted on the suspension of the rule requiring fuel trucks to be driven between 6.30am and 6.30pm.
Already, 40 million litres of fuel have accumulated over the last two days of a go-slow by distributors protesting police harassment when they are found operating beyond the legal time limits.
Mr Keter promised the transporters letters protecting them from arrest by police.
NOT BE ARRESTED
“I am going to write a letter now and each one of you will have a copy stating that you will not be arrested, but escorted by the police to a nearby secure place should you be on the road after 6.30pm. I am also going to meet my Cabinet colleague Nkaissery and inform him of the same so that businesses are not affected.
“This is law, but for the long-term, we shall see how it is amended for a smooth implementation,” Mr Keter told the stakeholders after a closed-door meeting with officials at the Nairobi Joint Depot in Industrial Area.
A meeting between the Energy CS, Internal CS Joseph Nkaissery and the petroleum industry stakeholders is set to be held on Wednesday to try and break the stalemate that now threatens to halt energy supply, crucial for running the country’s economic engine.
The clause contained in the Energy (Licensing of Petroleum Road Transportation Business) regulations, 2013, came in force in January 2014 but has never been implemented.
It requires licensed fuel transporters to ensure that petroleum tankers are only driven between 6.30am and 6.30pm.
DESIGNATED PARKING AREAS
Although it remains unclear where designated parking for the tankers are, the law also requires that petroleum tankers are only parked in “designated parking areas, where they exist, or at least 100 metres from any building” where designated parking does not exist.
Kipeda chairman Joseph Karanja said the distributors will wait for the letter and ensure that its contents are “reassuring” before deciding whether, and when, to resume business.
“We know this is law but our main problem is being harassed by the police. Once we have that assurance that they will only escort our drivers to safe locations after the timelines then we can start operations.
“The letter should clearly say that the 6.30 to 6.30 rule should be suspended and when arrested, you will only be escorted. If there is no policeman at that time then you just continue,” Mr Karanja said, giving mixed signals over the standoff.