Thursday, 14 April 2011

Rise in Kenyan Fuel Prices Promises Strife

With further rise in cost of fuel, food prices will escalate to their highest levels yet

Fuel prices have reached record level in Kenya and a consumer rights group has called for massive protests next week to press the government to do better on this subject.

From today, fuel prices are rising to the highest point since the country started using petrol, diesel, kerosene and the rest. In 2008, when one barrel was selling for 140, local petrol selling at 110 shillings.

Now, from today, in the latest review released by the Energy Regulatory Commission, super petrol will now sell at 111.17 shilling per litre in Nairobi, while diesel will cost 107.52 shillings.

The shock is with Kerosene that will sell for 100 shillings per litre in Lokichogio, and 90 shillings in Nairobi. In other places, the prices fall somewhere in between those ranges.

Today, Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) has condemned the latest increment in petrol prices, saying it will further complicate the lives and livelihoods of Kenyans. ''It is unheard of for a litre of kerosene to cost Sh92 when Kenya is neither at war or could be deemed to be a failed state,'' Cofek said.

''Additionally, we are calling upon consumers and other like-minded stakeholders to prepare themselves for a major public peaceful demonstration, next week, through which we will present memoranda to Parliament, Office of the President, Office of the Prime Minister and Mr Kiraitu’s office,'' Cofek said.

Kind of taking cue from Ugandan opposition groups, Cofek  asked ''motorists and commuters to consider walking to work and keep our roads free of vehicles apart from emergency cases, as practically as possible''.

From the look of things, fuel regulation in Kenya has grossly failed. Fuel is expensive in Kenya because the government takes up to 28 shillings for every litre of petrol. Of course there are other factors like inefficiencies with state agencies refining, processing and transporting the commodity. Also there are some further gross inefficiencies with storage.

So the latest rise is bound to bring strife in Kenya. It will push the poor Kenyans further into abject poverty, and thousands of middle class earners to poverty, while creating room for crime, violence and despondency in the nation.

Fuel has a direct impact on food. What drives a nation is a well-fed population. In the past several months, food prices have been rising so steeply in Kenya. Now, average earners are spending over 48 per cent or so of their incomes to feed their families.

So with the latest rise in fuel costs, food prices will rise further, promising anger and violence among the population.

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