NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 6 – Fuel supply at filling stations across the city resumed Thursday afternoon following intervention by a contingent of General Service Unit police officers who flushed out dealers staging protests at the Industrial Area fuel depot.
Capital FM News saw police officers escorting fuel trucks out of the Industrial Area depot Thursday morning ending a stalemate triggered by protesting fuel wholesalers.
The wholesalers under the Kenya Independent Petroleum Distributors Association had vowed to disrupt the distribution of fuel after a 16 per cent Value Added Tax on petroleum products which took effect on Saturday.
Josphat Kamau, a truck driver working for Shell fuel stations told Capital FM News fuel supply would resume shortly following intervention by the police.
“The police officers cleared the barricades and we were able to fill our trucks. The product will be available at our stations shortly,” he said.
A police officer who spoke on condition of anonymity said they had firm instructions to ensure only drivers refuelling their tanks had access to the depot.
“We’re not going to entertain any monkey business around here,” he hurriedly said declining to be quoted.
The operation followed cancellation of a licence issued to the Kenya Independent Petroleum Distributors Association (Kipeda) Holdings Limited, an entity responsible for the wholesale of petroleum products in the country, by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC).
ERC, in a statement on Wednesday evening cited economic sabotage by Kipeda Holdings Limited.
According to ERC, the firm was behind an elaborate intimidation scheme that has seen fuel transporters stage a strike over the implementation of the 16pc VAT on petroleum products, a strike which triggered fuel shortages in Nairobi and Mombasa.
ERC cited Section 85 of the Energy Act (2006) in revoking the licence held by Kipeda Holdings Limited.
“The Commission wishes to inform members of the public that the action by Kipeda Holdings Limited amounts to economic sabotage and hereby cancels the licence of the said licensee pursuant to Section 85 of the Energy Act No. 12 of 2006,” ERC stated.
“Kipeda Holdings Limited is therefore no longer licenced to carry out import, export and wholesale of petroleum products,” ERC announced.
The energy regulator issued another statement on Thursday dismissing claims of erroneous computation of new fuel prices following the coming into effect of the 16pc tax.
ERC said the current fuel prices were correctly reviewed in consultations with the National Treasury.
The commission restated that the current fuel prices will remain as are dismissing reports of an impending review as misleading.
On Wednesday, traffic snarl-ups were witnessed at filling stations across Nairobi as outlets stopped restocking petroleum products over speculation on the signing into law of the Finance Bill of 2018 which seeks to further suspend the 16 per cent VAT for two years.
Kiprono Sang, a Customer Service Attendant at a Shell station along Kenyatta Avenue had told Capital FM News fuel shortage was looming with the filling station having run out of petrol by midday Wednesday.
“The reason you can see this queue is that we’re actually running out of fuel. Diesel is currently selling at Sh115 from Sh102; petrol has risen to Sh127 from Sh113. In the next two hours we’ll only be selling diesel which again could run out by the end of the day,” Sang said.
Atieno Okudo who had queued at the fuel station waiting to refuel her car expressed concern over the looming crisis saying the tax charge on petroleum products was ill-timed.
According to Okudo, fuel dealers could also be hoarding the product in order to take advantage of desperate motorists.
“I’m concerned that I have to queue for so long because I am late for a meeting. The trouble about this country is that people always want to cash in on some of these situations,” she said.
Enoch Wambua, a Public Service Vehicle driver who had also queued for fuel told Capital FM News getting the product had become increasingly difficult.
“The fuel stations are telling us they cannot restock before they know whether the current VAT will be scrapped or not. I have been looking for this product since morning and as you can see, I have to queue before I get petrol here,” Wambua lamented.