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Anger boils over latest fuel hike

NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 15 – Protests over the recent fuel price increase continue to mount after pump prices reached an all time high of Sh111 on Friday.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (COFEK) strongly condemned the latest increase in petrol prices arguing it would further complicate the livelihoods of Kenyans.

COFEK has called for demonstrations next week where they plan to petition the government to intervene and lower the prices of fuel.

"During the week, we call upon motorists and commuters to consider walking to work and keep our roads free of vehicles apart from emergency cases, as practically as possible," COFECK said in a statement.

On Thursday, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), which supervises the energy sector and sets the prices every 14th day of the month, attributed the increase to a rise in international prices of crude oil.

The increase is by far the highest price paid for a litre of fuel since 2008 when motorists paid as much as Sh110.

Motorists in Mombasa will for the next one-month buy super petrol at Sh107.92 a litre, which will be the lowest amount while those residing in Mandera will pay the highest rate at Sh123.69.

COFEK was particularly concerned about the rise of kerosene prices, which it said, would put an economic burden on ordinary Kenyans who rely on it.

"It is unheard of for a litre of kerosene to cost Sh92 when Kenya is neither at war or could be deemed to be a failed state," the statement read.

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Manufacturers, who feel the heat as heavy industrial consumers of oil, warned that higher fuel prices would stifle economic growth and lead to another rise in consumer prices.

The Kenya Association of Manufactures Chief Executive Officer Betty Maina said the high prices must be curbed at acceptable level, as they would force the business community to pass on the burden of increased production costs to consumers who are already complaining of the high cost of living.

"Clearly, there is urgent need for the Government to move in and impose a degree of control to cushion the economy from adverse effects that might be experienced if the current high prices are sustained," Ms Maina said.

She called for a review of the formula that is used to come up with the cost of fuel price in order to deal with the sky rocketing prices that threaten not only the business community but also the livelihood of Kenyans.

"It is critical that the state get a levelling item in the formula so that consumers in the different parts of the country pay similar amounts for fuel consumption," she said.

On Wednesday, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance urged the government to liberalise the petroleum market arguing the ERC formula was inappropriate as it uses the price of crude at the international market, disallowing local marketers\’ companies\’ flexibility in pricing.

"If you have open pricing then it is up for then it is up to the individual companies to compete and you find that the prices tend to be depressed," KEPSA Chairman Eng Patrick Obath said.

The Ministry of Energy has however ruled out scraping the price controls arguing it serves as a tool to monitor market prices, but has called for a review of the formula.

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