Kenya PM warns oil firms

December 30, 2008

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 30 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has warned to oil marketing companies to stop hoarding fuel.

Mr Odinga accused a \’cartel\’ in the oil industry of intent to cause an artificial shortage so as to increase the cost of fuel in the country.

"We as government are getting involved in this affair because it is unfair, selfish and dishonest to Kenyans and it is an attempt to hold the country at ransom," he said.

In the last few weeks marketing companies had been forced to bring down the cost of fuel to reflect the reduction in the international crude oil prices.

However prices have begun rising due to the apparent shortage which has seen motorists drive long distances in search of the commodity.

Mr Odinga has ordered the distributors to collect the product from the Kenya Petroleum Refinery which he says is in adequate supply and distribute it.

He wants oil companies to resume full operations with immediate effect blaming them for \’faking\’ the current shortage of petroleum products to influence increase of prices.

Mr Odinga revealed that the country had enough supply of the commodity at various distribution depots but the marketers were lax to ship the petroleum products to respective supply points to create an unrealistic shortage.

"These oil marketers have simply refused to take collections from the depot for distribution and argue that they have the old stock which they want to sell exorbitantly but apply the same reasoning whenever a price hike caught them with old stock" he said.

The order comes after most petrol stations across ran dry during the Christmas season sparking fear among motorists that the shortage was likely to push the fuel prices higher after a two-month reprieve from high pump rates.

Mr Odinga made the statement at his office during a press conference after convening an emergency Cabinet committee meeting on food security with agriculture Minister William Ruto and Naomi Shabaan from the Special Programmes Ministry.

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