Fuel dealers blame shortage in North Rift on price mismatch

Members of the public help push a motorist's vehicle after it ran out of fuel while he was queueing to fuel at one of the few petrol stations that had fuel in Eldoret Town, Uasin Gishu County on March 28, 2022.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Independent petroleum dealers in the North Rift have blamed the ongoing fuel shortage in the region on a mismatch in oil pricing.

The landing cost of fuel is Sh164 and wholesalers are jittery about selling the products because the government has not committed to subsidizing, said dealer Collins Boinett.

“At the moment, in Eldoret, for instance, unleaded super goes for Sh135 and no dealer will sell the fuel beyond the recommended retail price,” he said. 

Stephen Kipsang (left) and Collins Kibet, Independent Petroleum Dealers, address the press in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on March 28, 2022, about the fuel crisis in the county . The two dealers had no fuel at their petrol stations.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Subsidy assurance

Mr Boinett said wholesalers want to be assured of compensation before they release the fuel.

“What the wholesalers want is just an assurance of the subsidy and the prices will be stabilised, since there is no shortage of fuel.”

He said shippers were reluctant to release the fuel because they fear incurring losses and they need to be assured that they will be compensated when fuel prices are reviewed next.

“There is about a Sh29 per litre difference when it comes to unleaded super, which the wholesalers need to be told who will pay. The effects of fuel shortage at the pumps has already hit consumers hard and the solution should be sought immediately,” Mr Boinett said.

Mr Stephen Kipsang, another dealer said the government had succeeded in stabilising fuel prices before and they should do so this time too.

“Farmers have already felt the heat and those from as far away as Elgeyo Marakwet and Nandi counties are flocking to Eldoret seeking to buy fuel,” he said. 

“There should be seamless communication from all stakeholders regarding pricing and subsidies to ensure the consumer is not hurt,” he stated.

Logistical constraints

In a statement on Monday evening, the Energy and Petroleum Regulation Authority (EPRA) said the fuel shortage in parts of Western and North rift has been occasioned by what it termed as ‘unprecedented logistical constraints,’ which had caused independent dealers to run out of petroleum stocks.

“EPRA together with the Ministry of Petroleum and Mining, oil marketers and other sector stakeholders have resolved the issues affecting supply and are working towards restoration of normalcy across the Country,” it stated through its Corporate Communications office.

The agency assured the public that there are enough fuel supplies in the country and that there should be no cause to panic.

Motorcycle riders and motorists queue to fuel at a petrol station in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County on March 28, 2022. It was among the few that had fuel on Monday following a shortage of the commodity.

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

Long queues

A severe fuel shortage has hit Eldoret and other towns in the North and Western region, with fuel stations witnessing long queues of motorists seeking the little that is available.

Some Shell outlets are the only ones that still have fuel, but only the V Power brand, which retails for Sh152 a litre compared with Sh135 for unleaded super, which most motorists use.

Motorists and boda boda operators lined up at the stations overnight for a second day in a row to refuel their vehicles.

Those whose vehicles had stalled along the way came to stations with containers to buy fuel, but they too had to queue.

"All petrol stations are now empty and it is now a matter of time before the available V Power fuel is exhausted,” lamented Mr David Maina, a boda boda operator.

“We don’t know what is happening and the pipeline depot is within Eldoret. V Power is expensive, but we have no option but to use it."

By Monday evening, motorists were still jamming fuel stations that still had fuel stocks, with a majority closing their pumps.