BY EDNA AKINYI MBOI
That Kenyan petrol consumers have to contend with the harsh reality of Sh100 per litre of petrol is entirely not surprising given either the government\’s continued laxity or complicity with oil marketers.
The oil marketers\’ cartel-like predictable style of artificial shortage followed by high-level price fixing is terribly hurting consumers.
The Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike has publicly confessed the unwillingness of the same oil marketers to discuss, let alone reduce, the unreasonable fuel pricing.
On the other hand, Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi has been playing a ping-pong game with Energy Regulatory Commission\’s proposed guidelines to rein in such cartels of fuel marketers.
Murungi and Nyoike whose ministry is yet to conclusively deal with the Sh7.6B "Triton Scandal" as well as accounting for the free energy bulbs project, have been lacking in sufficient political goodwill to save the unsuspecting public and specifically the interests of energy consumers.
When Nyoike and company make Kenyans to want to believe that he answers to oil marketers, and not the other way round, the sickening reality is whether the government\’s skewed position of a soft belly towards oil marketers at the expense of the public can be condoned any further.
Nyoike\’s promise that oil prices will fall as soon as the protracted battle between KenolKobil and Kenya Oil Refineries is settled has remained a pipe-dream even after the two protagonists buried their hatchet in a truce that saw the former agree to settle its outstanding debt with the latter.
Kenyans must now stand up for their rights. They must not waver this time round. They will be counting on themselves and the support of the media.
They must join Consumers Federation of Kenya in suing Murungi and Nyoike for either watching helplessly or conspiring with oil marketers to expose consumers to unreasonable and punitive end user pricing.
That court case should also address itself to the need to require that President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga personally intervene to halt the unabated exploitation of the unsuspecting energy consumers.
Kenya can no longer purport to realize Vision 2030 if the cost of energy cannot come lower nor can it be predicted.
Efficiency and good governance in the energy sector is all that is needed to turn around its fortunes. Kenyans are watching Kiraitu and Nyoike\’s lips and actions on this issue. Energy consumers are running out of patience with them.
(Edna Akinyi Mboi is a program officer at the Consumers Federation of Kenya, COFEK).