For the past three weeks, the country faced serious fuel crisis attributed to the state failing to pay oil marketers subsidies as promised last year in April. The crisis was expected to end last week when, President Uhuru Kenyatta, cleared Sh34 billion payments to oil marketers for their subsidy arrears. But that didn’t happen. Instead, the fuel crisis plunged to an all time hight. This was witnessed as Kenyan motorists and drivers with both public and private vehicles crowded at petrol stations across the country and stranded passengers at various bus stops.
It turned out, major players in the oil market were hoarding new stocks anticipating an increase in this week’s monthly price review. Some of the oil suppliers were selling oil to other countries thus the source of the crisis. Energy cabinet secretary, Monica Juma, also acting, CS for petroleum and mining said hoarders were causing economic sabotage to the country, causing Kenyans a challenge in accessing petroleum products in the needed quantities and at the correct prices. On Thursday, she announced the countries intentions to punish hoarders and restore normalcy within 72 hours. Easing access to fuel all over the country.
This came as a relief for most road users who were not able to access fuel or fill their tank to their liking. It was also a relief as crowded petrol stations, with people buying oil using containers, was a source of concern with experts worried about the crowd’s possibilities of triggering explosions. The w likelihood of unsafety, when it came to handling fuel, especially due to the introduction of petrol sold by the roadside to make things easy for motorists and vehicle owners who do not want to make long queues.
The country’s president, Uhuru Kenyatta, with the state deported Rubis Chief Executive Officer Jean Christian Bergeron to France, even, as it fought against oil marketers accused of economic sabotage by exporting fuel meant for the local market. Rubis is the third biggest marketer in Kenya after Total and Vivo energies and controls 8.6 percent of the local market. The country is working on solving the fuel crisis but how did we get here?
The situation may have begun with failure of the government to pay subsidies, but it’s also been attributed to disruption by the war between Russia and Ukraine, as the two are the world’s major oil distributors. With oil prices at USD 120 per barrel in the global market, the issue is more than the government failure to make subsidies payments promptly, its more about the price management it can afford. Since in the last six weeks the global prices have been rising. This means the country may face tougher times if, Russia- Ukraine war continue affecting the global market.