Moyale residents lament high fuel prices, contemplate relocating to Ethiopia

Moyale-Ethiopia One-Stop Border Post

An aerial view of the Moyale-Ethiopia One-Stop Border Post. The business community in Moyale has decried the high prices of fuel, saying they were crippling transport in Marsabit County.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Moyale residents want the government to urgently address the Kenya-Ethiopia border standoff to allow them to buy commodities across the border as the cost of living rises.

A litre of petrol in the border town hit Sh210 and diesel Sh193, while five kilometres across the border, the fuel retails at Sh120 and Sh100 respectively.

But they cannot access the commodity due to border restrictions. In Marsabit town, a litre of petrol costs Sh186 while diesel goes for Sh172.

The bus fare from Nairobi to Moyale, a distance of 850km, has shot up from Sh3,000 to Sh5,000, and as life becomes unbearable because of higher prices of other basic commodities caused by rising fuel costs, some residents are considering relocating to Ethiopia.

The gap in fuel prices in Kenya and neighbouring Ethiopia is a cause of concern for Moyale residents and the business community, most of whom cannot understand the dynamics.

Kenya should start talking to Ethiopia about fuel prices, said Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI) Moyale Chapter chairman Mohammed Ali.

“We call on the Kenyan government to collaborate with the Ethiopian authorities towards stabilising and harmonising the oil prices in the region,” Mr Ali said.

Historic highs

He lamented that recent fuel price hikes had resulted in high transport costs in the region and bus companies were raising fares to historic highs and piling pressure on residents who are already grappling with economic hardships due to the deteriorating Ethiopia-Kenya cross-border trade.

His predecessor, Mr Ali Nur, said most people were contemplating relocating to Ethiopia. “If things don’t change soon, Kenyans will migrate to Ethiopia. This is a concern that many residents have raised and it should be urgently addressed,” Mr Nur said.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Moyale Business Community chairperson Mzee Katelo Adan, who said rising fuel prices were hurting residents in Northern Kenya who rely on other parts of Kenya for foodstuffs and other domestic products, most of which are transported from Nairobi or Central Kenya. 

It was also feared that the region would have massive job losses and starvation if the government failed to intervene.

“Our people are suffering due to the high fuel prices and we appeal to the government to move with speed to implement the necessary cushion,” Mzee Adan said.

He said some residents who have relatives across the border in Ethiopia were considering relocating there due to the unbearable cost of living in Kenya.

Rising fuel prices have also affected the Marsabit town business community, which relies on buses to travel from Moyale to Nairobi. Bus fares from Marsabit town to Nairobi have shot up from Sh2,000 to Sh3,000.

Businesses that rely on electricity to run must also pay through their noses.

Marsabit Kenya Power Marketing Manager Jasper Ogeto cited high costs of supplying electricity to the county, saying the company spends Sh300 million every financial year.