NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Until last week, kerosene pumps at various fuel
stations in low income suburbs in Kenya’s capital Nairobi were
characterized by long queues, especially in the evenings.
the stations for the commodity used majorly for cooking, and for
some stations, the queue would stretch for about 50 meters.
But this is no
longer the case following government’s imposing of 16 percent
value added tax on fuel products.
The tax raised the
price of kerosene to an average of 1 U.S. dollar a liter across
the East African nation, up from 0.84 dollars.
The increase has
pushed low income families into biomass sources of fuel that
include firewood and crop waste in the rural areas.
The long queues that
characterized kerosene selling points in the East African nation
have consequently thinned as Kenyans seek alternative sources of
“I was using
kerosene to cook food but I am now supplementing this with
firewood,” motorbike transport operator Joseph Aswani said
Aswani recounted his
wife for the last one week has been scouting for waste wood at
construction sites, carpentry shops and timber yards for
“It has worked so
far because we now use kerosene for cooking only once in the
morning. This is helping me save,” said Aswani, who stays in
Kayole, a low income suburb, on the east of Nairobi.
He noted that the
one dollar price of kerosene per liter is too high for his
“When the price was
less than a dollar, I would buy at least two liters but now I
cannot afford from my 5 dollar per day income,” he said,
capturing the plight of many low income earners in the capital.
In most parts of
rural Kenya, maize farmers are currently harvesting their crops.
The dry maize cobs
and stalks are being turned into fuel by families as they seek
to escape the high price of kerosene and cooking gas, with a
16kg cylinder going at 30 dollars upcountry.
With many fuel
stations based in town centers, prices of kerosene deep in
villages have even risen for up to 1.3 dollars as dealers take
“I harvested plenty
of maize and this time round, I am not leaving the cobs to rot
on the farm. This is my fuel,” said Moses Otsieno, a farmer in
Stung by the high
cost of fuel, Kenyans have put their hopes on the president and
Kenyatta is this week expected to receive a bill from parliament
that deferred the high cost of fuel by two years. If he signs it
into law, the high prices will be deferred.
On the other hand,
rights activists have filed cases in court seeking to overturn
“People are no
longer buying kerosene as much as they used to since the high
prices came into effect,” said Cleophas Kariuki, a fuel station
attendant in Kayole on the east of Nairobi.
Henry Wandera, an
economics lecturer, noted high fuel prices would reverse gains
Kenya had made in using cleaner energy.
“Kerosene is not
clean but it’s better than firewood and crop waste. Right now
the cost of cooking gas has also gone up which means more
families would go for dirty fuels,” he said.
The use of
agricultural waste and firewood means Kenyans, in particular
women, have to spend hours in the kitchen exposing themselves to
air pollution, which causes health problems, according to health