Fuel, cooking gas shortage hits western Kenya

Thursday October 13 2011

People queue for gas at a petrol station.

Photo/FILE People queue for gas at a petrol station. A 6-kg cooking gas cylinder in western Kenya costs Sh1,200, up from Sh950. The prices are higher in Bungoma and Busia towns where it retails at between Sh1,350 and Sh1,500. 

By NATION TEAM [email protected]

An acute shortage of petrol and cooking gas has hit parts of western Kenya.

Several Kakamega County petrol stations run out supplies on Wednesday. Cooking gas stocks were depleted on Monday.

Petrol attendants said they were yet to receive fresh supplies from the Eldoret and Kisumu depots.

A filling station next to the main bus terminus had unleaded petrol which it could not sell as the pump had broke down.

Motorists reported buying a litre of super petrol at more than Sh120 where it was available, several shillings more than normal.

Depreciating shilling

A supervisor at the Somken Petrol Station, Mr Issac Dawai, on Thursday said: “We hope things will improve by the end of the day.”

The Energy Regulatory Commission is on Friday expected to announce new pump prices. It has been doing so on the 14th of the every month since the beginning of the year.

In Mumias, a tanker transporting 10,000 litres of the fuel went up in flames after it veered off the road and plunged in a ditch near Mwitoti trading centre.

Two men who were trying to steal the fuel and a battery were seriously burnt. Most public transporters have almost doubled fares in western Kenya.

Cooking gas dealers in Kisumu blamed the shortage on the depreciating shilling.

Mr Dilraj Hayer, the operations manager at an OiLibya service station, said: “We have been making inquiries from our suppliers in Nairobi but they keep telling us to wait.

“This is contrary to past cases where we made orders and the supplies were delivered immediately. Most of our customers have been asking for the six kg cooking gas but we have not received any new stocks.”

He said if the shilling continues to drop in value, importers will pass high cost to consumers. He urged the Energy Regulatory Commission to increase cooking gas prices.

“New gas stocks are being received at high prices and the importers are probably waiting for the exchange rate to stabilise or the regulatory commission to enact new prices before they can import more stocks,” said Mr Hayer.

A 6-kg cooking gas cylinder in western Kenya costs Sh1,200, up from Sh950. The prices are higher in Bungoma and Busia towns where it retails at between Sh1,350 and Sh1,500.

Many households are turning to charcoal and firewood for fuel. Consequently, charcoal sellers are said to be making a kill.

A bag of charcoal sells at Sh700, up from Sh550 in Eldoret while tree farmers are earning Sh150,000 up from Sh50,000 per hectare of well stocked wood lots.

“Government ban on harvesting of trees in public forests and restrictions on movement of timber products have increased market costs,” said Mr William Kiptoo, a timber merchant in Eldoret.

And the National Council of Non-Governmental Organisations chairman, Mr Ken Wafula, wants the government to come up with strategies to stabilise the weakening shilling.

“The inflation caused by the weakening value of the shilling is likely to lead to public riots unless the government comes up with policies that can reverse the trend,” warned Mr Wafula.

Reported by Benson Amadala, Abiud Ochieng, Barnabas Bii and John Shilitsa