Oil firms troop to Marsabit as improved roads open up northern Kenya

Road construction workers put final touches on the Isiolo-Marsabit highway in Marsabit town on May 4, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG
Road construction workers put final touches on the Isiolo-Marsabit highway in Marsabit town on May 4, 2017. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NMG 

More oil marketing companies are setting up shop in Marsabit town as better infrastructure opens up a region where demand for fuel is on the increase.

Fuel distributor Total Kenya #ticker:TOTL is set to open its doors to Marsabit's residents on June 1 while several other private investors look to establish a presence in the town.

Speaking to the Business Daily on Thursday, Mr Simon Gitau, the manager in charge of construction of the Baslum Business Hub where Total will be based, said this would be the first branch the oil firm has in the northern Kenya region.

“Entry of Total Oil Company gives confidence to other players in the industry. This will be the only branch within Marsabit, Wajir, Garissa and Mandera counties,” said Mr Gitau.

The county is opening up to investors as a result of the completed Isiolo-Moyale highway and tarmacking of local town roads.

The key infrastructure has expanded its transport system as investors troop into the area in large numbers hoping to tap needs of previously underserved residents.

New matatu saccos have come to town, besides a spike in the number of taxi, tuk tuk and boda boda operators, leading to an increase in the demand for fuel and petroleum-based products.

Not too far from where Total is opening shop are National Oil and Shell fuel stations.

Stiffer competition

Local National Oil branch manager Abdul Hussein says the outlet opened in 2013 as a private investment before rebranding earlier this year.

He says that when his family ventured into the business, the tarmac road was yet to reach Marsabit town.

“Vehicles and motorbikes have increased in the town. More people have ventured in the transport business increasing our earnings,” he explains.

“We are now going to face stiffer competition because other companies are setting up and more will come up in the future,” Mr Hussein adds.

Shell branch manager Baslum Omar shares a similar story. He says the fuel station was the first private investment in the 70’s and had only recently rebranded to now trade as the Vivo-owned oil firm.

“We began this station when the road was not existing. Vehicles had to make their way through bushes to get to Marsabit. Business is now good and we have to improve our offerings due to competition,” said Mr Omar.