A government's push to punish oil marketers who were blamed for the fuel shortage that hit Kenya in March and April this year has gone mute after State agencies involved developed cold feet months into the investigations.
Sources privy to the matter say the cases are still open at the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) more than six months after executives of the oil marketers were summoned to record statements.
The firms were called after the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (Epra) singled them out for hoarding fuel and slashing volumes for the local market leading to the shortage that nearly crippled the economy.
The unprecedented move to summon Ceos of the oil firms to the DCI underlined government’s resolve to punish the companies behind the shortage that it described as economic sabotage.
“It (probe by DCI) is quiet for now. We don’t know what they are planning to do,” said one of the executives who was part of those summoned by the DCI.
Completion of the investigations would pave way for possible jail terms of up to two years and Sh1 million in fines for those found guilty.
The fines are contained in the Energy (Minimum Operational Stock) Regulations, 2008 that prescribe the volumes of super, diesel and kerosene that oil marketers must maintain in their facilities.
Oil dealers are under the law required to maintain minimum stocks of super and diesel to last 20 days and 25 days respectively to cushion the country in the absence of strategic storage facilities for fuel.
At the height of the shortage, the government revoked the work permit of Rubis Kenya CEO Jean Pierre Bergeron and deported him in April.
The fuel shortage was linked to industry disquiet as oil marketers silently protested delays by the State to compensate them for keeping pump prices low.
Oil marketers are still owed at least Sh50 billion in compensation arrears for July-August, August-September and the current monthly cycle lapsing October 14.
Epra did not respond to our inquiries on the action taken. It had said that it would slash fuel allocations for dealers who ramped volumes for the neighbouring countries leading to the shortage.
A number of Ceos who sought anonymity also revealed that DCI has gagged them from talking to journalists on the probe.