The increased fuel tax has dealt a blow to businesses in Moyale town, with tens of small enterprises already closed over chronic power outages.
Moyale Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry chairman Ali Mumin said a litre of petrol is now retailing at Sh160, while diesel goes for Sh130.
He said the Moyale-Kenya town has been reeling under power blackouts for the past 10 months, forcing many businesses to close shop.
“I have records of 39 barber shops and five welding workshops that have already been closed due to the frequent power outages. Two major hotels are also contemplating closing shop due to the high cost of doing business here. We are now paying Sh3,500 to Nairobi up from Sh2,000. The hefty fuel tax is literally the straw that broke the camel’s back,” Mr Mumin said.
He noted that Kenya Power has been supplying electricity from generators after power from Ethiopia went off in unclear circumstances.
Mr Mumin said efforts to seek intervention from leaders have not borne fruit even as the cost of basic commodities skyrocketed.
“Despite petrol going for Sh80 per litre across the border in Moyale-Ethiopia, we cannot access it due to the new border controls. The government put up a one-stop border point with Ethiopia for ease of cross-border trade but it has actually made things difficult. In the past, we used to pay Sh1,200 for a bag of beans but we are now charged Sh3,000,” he said.
The chamber of commerce chairman said cross-border trade has been made difficult by the fact that Ethiopia was not a member of the East African Community.
He called on the government to cancel the implementation of the hefty fuel tax hike and give answers on the fate of the electricity supplied by Ethiopia to Kenya.
In April, the business community in Moyale held demonstrations demanding better services by Kenya Power.
Moyale business community’s sentiments were echoed by South Imenti MP Kathuri Murungi, who called on President Uhuru Kenyatta to assent to the Bill deferring the implementation of the fuel tax immediately he returns from China.
“The Treasury should look for other avenues of raising revenue rather than overburdening the common mwananchi. Fuel is a very sensitive product which will affect all sectors of the economy and make life difficult for Kenyans,” Mr Kathuri said.