Time we did something about fuel prices

By Laban Wanambisi

During the struggle for equality by African Americans, there were two schools of thought – one that subscribed to Martin Luther King’s opinion and another that subscribed to Malcolm X’s way of doing things.

These two gentlemen disagreed on how to ensure that the rights of the black people are respected. While Dr King vouched for peaceful civil disobedience, Malcolm X was of the opinion that mass action would secure them the freedom.

Malcolm X once remarked that “if you are interested in freedom you will need judo, karate… you will need all the things that will help you fight for freedom.”  He continued to borrow from the leaders of the independence struggle in Africa, saying Africans didn’t get freedom by sitting in, or by singing.

Although his words were on Black Nationalism, it has a relation to our love-hate relationship with the oil retailers. In my opinion, we have been singing “we shall overcome” for too long and yet the oil companies \’wametuzoea\’.

Have you ever asked yourself why fuel pump prices are always reviewed upwards because of purported international crude oil prices yet when they drop, local prices do not follow suit? All we get is the balderdash that local firms want to clear their stock, with mere promises of a review in the future. Nothing happens.

Here is why I think we need to change tact, the other day when we heard that the prices would go up, I started hearing talk of boycotting some stations but then one lady scoffed “it won’t work, because we all know some people will go and pay to fill up their tanks and the movement will lose meaning”.

But, over the weekend I saw civil society groups and COTU calling us out for a boycott, but a lawyer friend of mine scoffed at that move as well. According to him, Kenyans should just go to court using provisions under the new Constitution.

My lawyer friend is of the view that our consumer rights are being infringed upon and when I checked my copy of the Constitution, Article 46 talks about just that.

It says “consumer rights have the right good and services of reasonable quality; to the information necessary for them to gain full benefit from goods and services."

Here is my argument that nobody has ever explained to us the rationale for increasing fuel pump prices. They owe me that much, otherwise I have the right to move to court to complain that I was not consulted.

So if you want to keep singing go ahead, but may I remind you that you voted for a better and faster solution on August 4.

Where’s that petition that I hear is going round?  I need to sign it ASAP.

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