Commuters stranded as PSV operators hike fares

Alvin Mwangi @PeopleDaily

Hundreds of passengers in Nairobi were yesterday stranded for hours at bus stations waiting for public service vehicles as fuel shortage continued to bite.

The shortage has been caused by a strike by fuel distributors to protest the the 16 per cent VAT on petroleum products which took effect last week.

A spot check by People Daily revealed that most matatus were either missing from the roads, while the few that were operating increased fares.

“Normally, they charge Sh100 but today they are charging Sh150 and few vehicles are operating. Our employer expects us to arrive at work on time. What do they expect us to do?” said a frustrated commuter who had been waiting for a matatu for hours.

Other matatu operators suspended operations to protest the hike of fuel prices. In Ruai, passengers had to scramble for the few matatus that were operating, notwithstanding the increased fares.

Many petrol stations in the city have closed shop after running out of stocks. Astrol Petrol station on Nairobi’s Lenana Road as well as Delta in Kiambu and Total in Ridgeways are some of the petrol stations where pumps have gone dry.

The increase in fuel prices has sparked an outcry from Kenyans who feel the hike will blow a big hole in their pockets. Anthony Mwangi, an accountant at an electronics firm on Luthuli Avenue, said he might have to switch to  city commuter trains to travel to and from work.

However, he said the challenge with the train is that it takes longer which means he was likely to arrive at work late on most days. “If the situation remains the same, it will be hard for me to make a living in Nairobi,” says Mwangi.

Meanwhile, Operations at many petrol stations in Nairobi had resumed last evening, raising hopes that the fuel shortage which has inconvenienced commutters, private motorists and transporters will soon come to and end.

The resumption of normalcy in the distribution of petroleum products is attributed to an intervention by anti-riot police who earlier broke up a protest of dealers who had paralysed operations at a fuel depot in industrial Area. The police also escorted trucks carrying petroleum products from the depot to petrol stations.

Long queues at petrol stations were still evident, however, as motorists scrambled for fuel at the few filling stations that were operational.

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