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Senators Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (left) and Ledama Olekina (right)/CFM

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Kenyans online slam publicity-seeking MPs for shedding crocodile tears over fuel prices

Senators Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) and Ledama Olekina (Narok) found themselves on the receiving end after wadding into the debate over the latest fuel review which saw the price of petrol leap by Sh8 in Nairobi just a month after a similar increase.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – Kenyans online have equaled the public condemnation of the upward adjustment of fuel prices by a section of lawmakers to the proverbial crocodile tears amid discontent over the record-setting fuel prices announced by the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) on Sunday.

Senators Mutula Kilonzo Jnr (Makueni) and Ledama Olekina (Narok) found themselves on the receiving end after wadding into the debate over the latest fuel review which saw the price of petrol leap by Sh8 in Nairobi just a month after a similar increase.

Diesel and kerosene prices increased by Sh5.75 and Sh5.41 respectively in Nairobi.

Muranga Senator Irungu Kang’ata warned that Kenyans should expect similar increments especially if the Building Bridges Initiative Constitutional Amendment Bill is enacted.

Senate Minority Leader Mutula Kilonzo and Olekina said Kenyans deserve an explanation on the rise of fuel prices by the Energy Regulator

Kapseret MP Oscar Sudi on his part stated that; “Regarding the matter concerning the consistent rise in fuel prices, I have always been complaining of the starving Kenyans but most of the people have been thinking it’s a joke. But at least am happy that @TheODMparty are now back to their senses.”

The Institute of Economic Affairs CEO Kwame Owino and Bloomberg East Africa’s Rama Nyang faulted the legislators for failing to pay attention  to delegated authority to regulatory institutions.

“Here’s evidence that these parties can plan big rallies but don’t have a clue about regulatory policy. The prices are determined by a formula passed in a law. EPRA cannot change those prices and has no power to do so,” Owino noted.

Nyang explained that the trend of oil prices rising was pretty clear in the second half of 2020, and the first quarter of 2021. The weakness of the Kenya Shillings against the US Dollar amplified it.

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“There was plenty of data in the public domain to justify not raising taxes (including job loss data from KNBS)….Ergo, since these were issues that could be easily foreseen from around October, there was lots of time to legislate to lower the tax load on citizens and businesses.

The opposite happened in that 6-month window, as seen in the December 22 removal of pandemic tax cuts,” Nyang stated.

Many of those who reacted to EPRA’s announcement demanded relief from the executive and the lawmakers.

“I remember telling you that fuel would go up with crazy margins. Insider info is that , by next month, the prices would still go up. Unless @StateHouseKenya intervenes. Everything else from today will be expensive & unbearable,” SokoAnalyst, a market and commodity price review group, explained.

“Dear Kenyans, do not let silly politicians trick you that they are “protesting hiked prices of fuel.” They voted overwhelmingly to pass the law that gave EPRA powers to do so, including passing the law to charge VAT on fuel. They did it & earned allowances that day. Ignore them,” said a social media user by the name Juma G

“Instead of complaining and fueling, we should be organizing demos to demand explanations on the fuel prices. This is not a fair country that is seeking to help its citizens,” Nakeel said on her twitter handle.

Social-Political Activist Boniface Mwangi added, “Is President Uhuru aware that the cost of living is going higher everyday? Does he really know that Kenyans are barely surviving? Can someone explain to me how life will become easier if we decide to pass BBI? Will BBI lower rent, food,fees and fuel prices?”

Blogger Robert Alai added Kenyans should pile pressure on their respective MPs to push back on the move by the EPRA to increase fuel prices.

“MP should not be helplessly whining online like the rest of us about fuel prices….You must demand better.” Alai stated.

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In a press statement, EPRA said the March-April changes are a consequence of the average landed cost of imported Super Petrol increasing by 14.97 per cent from US dollar 391.24 in January 2021 to US dollar 449.82 per cubic metre in February 2021.

As a result of the coronavirus containment measures, already, transport costs have shot up on most city commuter routes.

For instance a commute from eastlands estate like Umoja, Kayole, Buru-buru have increased to Sh100 from the usual Sh50 – Sh80.

Commuters along Thika Superhighway also said they have had to part with Sh100 instead of the usual fare which ranged between Sh50 to Sh70.

Those from outskirts of the city like Ngong, Athi River, Kiambu expressed concern that Public Service Vehicle (PSV) operators are likely to increase the fare beyond the Sh150 they are currently paying.

Through their Associations, PSV operators, had warned of fare increment after reports emerged that the fuel prices would continue on the upward trend.

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