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Motorists in Mandera troop to Somalia for affordable fuel

Saturday September 15, 2018

Kenyans in border towns are now forced to import affordable fuel from Somalia after local prices hit the roof.

Petrol stations across the border towns have suffered dwindling customer numbers, as those who cannot get imported fuel opt to park their vehicles.

In towns like Moyale and Takaba, vehicles and motorbikes are getting a reprieve in Ethiopia because of its proximity and lower fuel prices.

In Ethiopia, a litre of diesel is retailing at Sh70. The same fuel on the Kenyan side of the border goes for between 140 and Sh150 per litre.

In Mandera, Kenyans are relying on fuel from Somalia. Currently, Kenyan petrol in Mandera costs Sh142 a litre, up from Sh118 two weeks ago, due to the crippling 16 per cent VAT imposed by the Jubilee government.

This has forced desperate residents to import the fuel from Bula Hawa town in Somalia, which is less than 300 metres away.

The fuel from Bula hawa is unfiltered and a litre of petrol goes for Sh100.

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Buses plying the Mandera-Nairobi route have also increased the fare. Before the VAT, the buses charged Sh3,500 from Mandera to Nairobi but now passengers pay Sh4000.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures. I have personally been forced to fuel my Tuktuk in Bula hawa just to cut the cost.

“The amount I am required to cough out for a litre at our local petrol stations is just too much. I surely cannot manage,” said Abdi Mohamed, a taxi operator in Mandera town.

He added: “But as the saying goes cheap is always expensive. My tuktuk has been experiencing mechanical problems from time to time. I suspect it is because of the unfiltered petrol that I fill in my tank. But surely I have no choice.”

According to Mohamed Abdi, another resident, who operates a petrol stations in Mandera town, the number of customers has reduced drastically in the last two weeks.

“If this government really cares for its citizens then it should seriously consider reducing these prices. We are already feeling the heat of tough economic times.

“The president should listen to our cries and do something about it. otherwise if it is left like that it will be terrible for the common mwananchi, especially for us in Mandera who are hundreds of kilometres away from Nairobi,” said Mohamed.

“As much I sympathise with the motorists, there is nothing I can do about it because the prices are regulated. I am equally affected in this because when I don’t get people coming to fuel their cars then my business is at great risk of closure,” he said.

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