NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – Operators of Public Service Vehicles have said they are unlikely to reduce their fares despite the significant reduction in fuel prices in the last few weeks.
Matatu Owners Association (MOA) Chairman Simon Kimutai told Capital News on Wednesday that Kenyans would continue to pay the current high fares even if the fuel prices went down to as low as Sh60.
Mr Kimutai said that operation costs of the business had really gone up in the last one year making the business ‘very uneconomical’.
“The price of a minibus has had an increment of Sh400,000. At the same time the City Council has raised parking fees from Sh1,400 to as high as Sh5,000. It is giving on one hand and taking away by the other,” he said.
Kenya Shell Company took the lead on Monday, reducing of pump prices. The company is selling a litre of petrol at Sh78 and that of diesel at Sh73. Other companies have however remained at Sh93 for petrol and Sh88 for diesel. A few weeks ago petrol was selling as high as Sh110.
On Wednesday, Kenol/Kobil towed the line and announced an immediate reduction of its pump prices by Sh15, to the same price levels as those by Shell.
A statement signed by the General Manager David Ohana said the reduction would be effected immediately and would apply in all fuel stations under their brand name.
“The company’s sales team has already been dispatched countrywide to ensure that the reduction is effected by close of business today (Wednesday),” Mr Ohana revealed.
However, despite the reductions, Mr Kimutai said that this was still higher compared to what matatu operators used to pay a year ago.
“If you look at the increase of fares for those of us who increased it was by Sh5 or Sh10. You realise that the reductions in the fuel prices is leaving us at Sh72 as compared to Sh60 last year,” Mr Kimutai insisted.
And as Mr Kimutai spoke the National Civil Society Congress was mobilising Kenyans for three days of boycott on oil and its products to compel fuel companies to reduce their prices in tandem with global prices.
Chairman Morris Odhiambo said the boycott would be held between December 10 and 12.
“We call on the oil companies to reduce the price to Sh40 per litre of kerosene and Sh60 for petrol,” he said adding that the government should come up with legislation to protect Kenyans from exploitation by multi-nationals and trans-nationals.
“We call on all motorists to refrain from fuelling their cars. We also urge industry owners to allow their employees not to go to work,” he said.
Despite the significant decline in the international market, fuel companies have failed to reciprocate their prices and not even a plea from President Mwai Kibaki has moved them.
Following unrelenting public uproar the government is set to introduce price controls in January next year. The Energy Regulatory Commission has already rolled out guidelines for the controls.
The rising fuel prices have been blamed for the high cost of production in the country which has led to the escalating food prices. The Congress urged the government to zero rate all basic commodities to cushion Kenyans from the financial crisis.
Name and Shame Corruption Network communications officer Benji Ndolo blamed the recent crisis on a failed leadership.
“The fact that the president, the acting Finance and Energy ministers’ directives were ignored shows that these cartels enjoy certain corrupt protection,” he said.