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Counties

Vehicles grounded as Lamu towns hit by acute shortage of petrol

A boda boda rider buys petrol
A boda boda rider (right) buys petrol from a dealer dealer at Mokowe Jetty in Lamu. An acute shortage of petrol has hit most parts of Lamu County with Hindi and Mokowe towns being the most affected. PHOTO| KALUME KAZUNGU | NMG 

An acute shortage of petrol has hit most parts of Lamu County with Hindi and Mokowe towns being the most affected.

A number of motorists and boda boda riders in the two towns have been grounded and cannot run their daily errands following the biting shortage.

The few traders who have the commodity are selling it at very high prices which most of the motorists say they cannot afford.

A litre of petrol in Lamu is normally sold at between Sh120 and Sh140.

But a spot check by the Nation has revealed that it has now gone up to between Sh200 and Sh300 per litre.

Boda bodas

Speaking to journalists in Mokowe, the Lamu Maninland Boda boda Operators Association Chairman Peter Musembi called on the government to intervene and solve the petrol shortage in Lamu.

Mr Musembi said many boda boda riders have opted out of business following the petrol shortage.

“We are really suffering as boda boda operators here in Lamu. It is now almost a week since the shortage begun. The few with the commodity sell it at very awkward prices. How can you buy a litre of petrol at Sh200 or Sh300 while we normally buy it at Sh120 or Sh140? Some of us have quit the trade.

High prices

“We don’t understand the country we’re living in. I am aware the government recently announced a drop in fuel prices. But why are the Lamu people still buying petrol at high prices? We’re also Kenyans and we need urgent intervention to solve not only the petrol shortage but also the prices that petrol is being sold at here,” said Mr Musembi.

Mr Abdalla Yusuf, a boda boda rider operating in Hindi Town said they have been forced to increase fares due to the shortage and the high prices.

Mr Yusuf says business is low since they have lost customers due to the hiked fares.

“Sometimes we have to cross to Lamu Island which is over 80 kilometres away in search of petrol. If you happen to get the commodity, it is sold at very high prices. That’s why we have opted to raise the fares but some of our customers don’t seem to understand why they have to pay, say Sh100, to a place where they normally pay Sh50,” said Mr Yusuf.

Making losses

Contacted, fuel station owners and petrol dealers in the region said they are making losses and as such had opted to sell the available petrol at double the set price.

“Most distributors of petrol have ceased to come to Lamu. We are therefore forced to make our own arrangements to get the petrol here. We have to incur the transport costs. Also bear in mind that there is fuel which is lost due to evaporation on the way and by the time we receive what is remaining, selling it at as the ERC directs leaves us with no profit. That’s why we’re selling it dearly,” said Mr Mohamed Omar, a petrol dealer at the Mokowe Jetty.

Motorists now want the government to intervene and have the issue resolved promptly.

In Witu and Mpeketoni, the situation has improved as most petrol stations had the commodity by Friday morning compared to three days ago when the towns experienced an acute shortage of petrol.

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