Maralal town in Samburu County has been hit by an acute fuel shortage after petrol station owners closed their businesses following a crackdown by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) officials over overpricing of fuel.
The Saturday afternoon operation saw petrol station owners arrested for selling petrol beyond the ERC set prices.
A litre of petrol was selling at Sh128 on Saturday against the recommended price of Sh117.89 by ERC, diesel was selling at Sh122 instead of Sh116.83.
The ERC officers were also testing for substandard fuel. A petrol station owner who sought anonymity told KNA that it is impossible for local merchants to make profit if they sold as per the ERC prices.
The business operator cited transport costs and regular blackouts in the town as some of the factors that make them hike fuel prices.
“We buy fuel at the Nakuru depot at Sh114 and if we factor in transport cost, security and poor road conditions it does not break even if we sell at Sh117 per litre as per the ERC recommendations,” the petrol station owner said.
The business person even clarified that they don’t hike fuel prices without consulting with ERC, adding that in March this year, petrol station owners came up with a pricing formula which was approved by ERC petroleum director Edward Kinyua.
“Together with the ERC director, we came up with a pricing formula which was approved. So we are within the law when we hike our prices,” the operators said.
Speaking on phone, Samburu Central Sub county police Commander Abagarro Guyo confirmed the arrest saying the suspects would be arraigned in court on Monday.
Meanwhile, hundreds of commuters were stranded in Maralal town on Sunday as major petrol stations closed down.
Boda boda and taxi businesses in the town were the worst hit, with some operators being forced to buy fuel from Nyahururu town which is over 150 kilometers away.
However, a boda boda operator John Kiplagat urged ERC to pressurize petrol station operators to sell fuel at the recommended prices for the sake of consumers.
By Robert Githu