Oil truckers dispute with ERC sparks fuel shortage in Nairobi

Petrol stations in Nairobi and the surrounding areas have reported fuel shortages caused by the stand off between oil transporters and the Ministry of Energy over the implementation of the law requiring trucks to only operate during the daytime.

Motorists in Nairobi and Kiambu complained of fuel shortages on Wednesday after truckers' demands to have the directive suspended failed.

Shell fuel stations across the area reported supply issues but Vivo Energy, which distributes and markets Shell-branded fuel and lubricants in Kenya, admitted to the difficulties but promised to have a regular supply starting Thursday.

Vivo Energy's Managing Director, Kenya Polycarp said: "Vivo Energy Kenya and our contracted transporters were not party to the strike. We deliver product as per the stipulated day travel rules by ERC for laded petroleum trucks.

He added: "Offloading of product at various Shell service stations commenced this morning (Wednesday). Full operation normalcy is expected tomorrow (Thursday) at all Shell service stations."

The Kenya Independent Petroleum Distributors Association (Kipeda) which was behind the strike was however non-committal on resolution of the stalemate.

Kipeda chairman Joseph Karanja, who led calls for the suspension of the fuel transit restrictions, said the shortages being experienced were spillover effects since trucks loaded on Wednesday were supposed to have been dispatched Monday morning.

He insisted the directive to have the trucks escorted by the police after 6.30pm to the safest place would be impractical, terming the directive a 'soft way' of freezing the regulation.

He said: "The safest place for a loaded fuel tanker is either a depot or where it is destined to offload.

"Even the police will not allow such a truck to be parked in their compound. We know the law still remains and that directive was just meant to cool things down, we don't even expect the police to escort the trucks anyway."

The Energy Regulatory Commission in a letter to Inspector General Joseph Boinett asked for police escort for any truck found in the road beyond the prescribed time "to the nearest are with safe parking and without sanctions or penalties."

However the law still remains in force and trucks continuing to operate beyond 6.30pm would be guilty of an offence.