NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 6 – The parliamentary committee on Finance has summoned Petroleum Cabinet Secretary John Munyes for failing to honor its invitation in an ongoing investigation on fuel prices.
The committee chaired by Homa Bay Woman Representative Gladys Wanga was scheduled to table its report on recommendations on Tuesday but was added a week to conclude the probe.
Munyes is specifically required to explain to the committee why fuel prices have consistently shot up in recent months, including in September when they went up with an average of Sh9 sparking uproar across the country.
“We have invoked our Standing Order 191. We have now requested the Clerk of the committee to issue a summon to the Cabinet Secretary for Petroleum to appear before the committee tomorrow (Thursday) at 10 am. The matter before us is of national interest and all too important we cannot afford to reschedule any further. There is a problem in this animal called demurrage charges,” Wanga said.
The Wanga-led team had invited both Munyes and his Principal Secretary Andrew Kamau but they failed to honor the invitation and instead requested to appear on October 18.
“We have only seven days to table the report before the House. The CS has not responded to the invite, the PS on the other hand says he will be available on the 18th of October. We cannot afford to reschedule again; this is an issue of national interest. The officials in the ministry are acting in contempt of the committee,” Wanga said.
The legislators accused Munyes of running the ministry as a “one-man show”. They also faulted the Cabinet Secretary for failing to delegate the matter to other relevant officials in the ministry, if for any reason he couldn’t honor the invite.
“Just because the Cabinet Secretary and the Principal Secretary are not available does it now mean we have to postpone our business till the October 18. Unless they are also in conspiracy with the people misappropriating demurrage charges in the oil jetty. I don’t understand why they are not here, they are totally out of order,” the committee Vice-Chairman Waihenya Ndirangu said.
Last week when PS Kamau appeared before the committee, he revealed that shipping vessels have to wait between 48 hours and 96 hours to discharge fuel in what contributes to the high fuel prices.
Kamau said the current structure cannot accommodate the approximately seven shipping vessels in time and so the shipping vessels are technically paid delaying cost.
The Mombasa oil jetty by the Kenya Pipeline Company has the capacity to hold fuel supplies for only seven to ten days only.
During the sitting, Wanga revealed that on average, Sh30 million is paid to every ship over delays to clear. She alluded that the committee is keen to establish whether the officials at the jetty could be paid to deliberately occasion the delay.
“It is unacceptable that when we want the officials to shed light on the matter, they don’t show up. The extent of this matter is wide, we have one ship that docked in June this year and taxpayers paid Sh55 million for the ship’s delay. We can’t be having officials being paid to delay the vessels,” lamented Wanga.
Previously, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) Director-General, Daniel Kiptoo, had said that fuel consumers are parting with Sh110 million in demurrage charges every month due to unloading delays at Mombasa port. He said the annual costs amount to Sh1.3 billion.