Kenyans Voice Fury Over Fuel Price Hikes

Report Any Station Selling Petrol Above N145, NNPC Tells Nigerians
A fuel pump nozzle.

 

Kenyans voiced fury on Thursday at a jump in fuel prices, which threaten to pile on the misery for a population already suffering economic hardship because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Fuel prices are now at record levels after the country’s energy regulator this week put an end to subsidies on petrol, diesel and kerosene that were introduced earlier this year to ease anger over the surging cost of living.

The East African economic powerhouse has suffered huge job losses as gross domestic product shrank last year for the first time in three decades, with Covid-19 battering usually strong sectors like tourism.

The scrapping of the subsidies, which took effect on Wednesday, increased the price of petrol in Nairobi by about six percent to a maximum of almost 135 shillings (about $1.20 or 1.00 euro) a litre.

And the cost is set to rise further with the introduction of a near five percent excise duty on fuel from October 1.

“The increase in fuel is just ridiculous, it shows that the government is not in touch with the reality on the ground, how do they want us to survive,” said James Mwangi, 42, a second-hand car dealer in Nairobi.

“Any increase in fuel prices means an increase in many other things.”

Mercilyne Njeri, 35, who works at a five-star hotel in Nairobi, says she is already trying to survive on 60 percent of her usual salary.

“The government is not realistic, you cannot increase fuel prices at a time we are suffering from tough economic times brought about by Covid-19 challenges.”

Kenya’s Deputy President William Ruto, who is in open conflict with President Uhuru Kenyatta, criticised the decision, warning it will lead to a higher cost of living across the board.

“This is mistaken in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said, calling for the energy ministry and parliament to address the issue.

‘We Can’t Breathe’

The Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek) warned of a huge hit on the economy -– “high cost of production, surge in food prices, transport and overall, a higher cost of living”.

“The foreign direct investments as well as consumer purchasing power will be driven south for a struggling economy reeling under the Covid-19 pandemic,” it said in a statement on Wednesday.

Kenyan consumers pay several taxes on fuel, which account for the vast bulk of the price charged by pump operators.

Kenya’s GDP dropped to 10.75 trillion shillings ($98 billion, 83 billion euros) last year and the economy also shed 738,000 jobs, with informal workers such as small traders and artisans bearing the brunt of those losses.

Kenyans are still living under restrictions including a nighttime curfew to contain the spread of Covid-19.

The disease has infected almost 245,000 people in the country including almost 4,950 fatalities, according to official figures.

“Covid made our lives so miserable and now the fuel prices increase has made it even worse,” said 27-year-old Kevin Mwanzia, an electronics technician.

“We simply can’t breathe, the public transport fare will increase, commodity prices will also increase. How are we supposed to survive?”

Reps Caucus Demands Halt In Fuel Price Increase

Report Any Station Selling Petrol Above N145, NNPC Tells Nigerians
A file photo of a nozzle pump.

 

The Minority Caucus in the House of Representatives has rejected the reported increase in the pump price of fuel from N148 to N151.56.

Minority Leader of the House, Ndidu Elumelu, made the position of the lawmakers known in a statement on Wednesday.

He described the announced price as unacceptable, saying it would result in an increase in the already high cost of consumer goods and services, as well as worsen the current economic hardship being suffered by Nigerians.

“The minority caucus in the House of Representatives rejects the announced increase in the pump price of fuel,” the lawmaker stated.

He added, “This is because such increase will directly result in more hardship on our citizens, particularly at this critical time when a majority of Nigerians across the country are struggling to survive under the burden of the high cost of living and low purchasing power occasioned by the prevailing economic challenges.

“Any increase in the cost of an essential commodity like fuel will, therefore, bring more hardship to the people and as such should not be contemplated.”

A file photo of the House of Representatives Minority Leader, Ndudim Elumelu.

 

According to the minority leader, the opposition lawmakers are challenging the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led government to rather come up with strategies that will lead to decrease and not increase in the cost of domestic fuel.

He stressed that it was important for the government to revamp the nation’s refineries, instead of resorting to fuel price increase at the detriment of Nigerians.

Elumelu, therefore, directed the PPMC to immediately rescind the purported announcement and revert to the former price, with a view to further reviewing it downward.

The statement was in reaction to media reports that the Petroleum Product Marketing Company (PPMC) had increased the ex-depot price of Premium Motor Spirit, also known as petrol.

The PPMC, a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), is said to have increased the price from N138.62 per litre to N151.56 per litre.

PDP Rejects Increase In Fuel Price, Electricity Tariff

Ekiti PDP Holds Governorship Primary Election
A file photo of PDP’s logo.

 

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has rejected the reported increase in the price of petrol to N151 per litre and electricity tariff to N66 per kwh.

In a statement on Wednesday by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party described the increase as callous and cruel, alleging that the All Progressives Congress (APC) was punishing Nigerians.

“The party demands an immediate reversal of the prices to avert a national crisis, as the increase will result in upsurge in costs of goods and services and worsen the biting hardship being faced by Nigerians who are already impoverished and overburdened by APC-imposed high cost of living in the last five years,” the statement claimed.

It added, “Our party asserts that by increasing the price of fuel from the N87 per litre it sold under the PDP to an excruciating N151 while at the same time allowing the hike in electricity tariff from N30.23 per kwh to over N66, the APC has left no one in doubt that its agenda is to inflict pain and hardship on Nigerians to satisfy their selfish interests.”

A file photo of a transformer.

 

The PDP stated that the increase in the price of such essential supplies was unjustifiable, claiming that the APC was attempting to rationalise the excruciating hardship being suffered by the people.

It stressed that it was distressing that the present administration increased the cost of essential commodities at the time the leadership of other countries were offering palliatives to their citizens to cushion the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The party said it was shocking that the reported increase could be approved at a time when many Nigerians were struggling to afford staple foods and other necessities of life.

It, therefore, challenged the APC and the Muhammadu Buhari administration to publish the parameters with which it arrived at the reported increase.

The PDP believes given the prevailing values in the international market, the appropriate price template for domestic pump price in Nigeria ought not to be above N100 per litre.

“Our party further challenges the APC-led Federal Government to publish details of its sleazy and over-bloated oil subsidy regime, including the involvement of APC interests in the claimed under-recovery for unnamed West African countries, running into trillions of naira, while Nigerians are made to bear the burden of high fuel costs,” the party said.

It alleged, “Moreover, the APC and its government have failed to allow an open investigation into allegations of fuel price overcharge, as well as the fraudulent subsidy regime through which over N14 trillion had allegedly been frittered by unscrupulous individuals in the APC.

“Our fear is that the APC is pushing Nigerians to the wall with its obnoxious and anti-people proclivities and we caution that nobody should misinterpret the peaceful and law-abiding nature of Nigerians as a sign of weakness.”

The party called on the National Assembly to save the nation by calling the APC and its administration to order to avoid a crisis in the country.

Zimbabwe Increases Fuel Price By 150 Per cent

File photo

 

Zimbabwe on Wednesday announced a 150 per cent rise in the price of fuel following the launch of a forex auction system which eroded the value of the local currency.

The price of a litre of diesel jumped 152 per cent to ZW$62.77 ($1.12) from ZW$24.93 while petrol shot up 147 per cent to ZW$71.62, the country’s Energy Regulatory Authority said in a notice.

The central bank re-introduced forex auctioning on Tuesday, the first in 16 years after a long battle to stabilise its currency and fight hyperinflation.

The auction saw the local currency losing more than half of its value from 1:25 to 1:57 to the greenback by the end of trading.

Zimbabwe has been facing fuel shortages since October 2018.

The scarcity prompted President Emmerson Mnangagwa to increase the price of fuel by 150 per cent in January 2019, sparking countrywide demonstrations.

At least 17 people were killed and scores injured after soldiers deployed to quell the strike opened fire on protesters.

The government said at the time the prices were lower than in other countries in the region, and that some foreigners were buying fuel in bulk in Zimbabwe for resale in neighbouring countries.

Despite the price increase which was aimed at ending shortages, the scarcity persisted with motorists sometimes spending nights in queues for fuel pumps, stretching for kilometres.

After years in international isolation, Zimbabwe’s economy has been on a downturn for more than a decade.

Mnangagwa, who took over from long-time leader Robert Mugabe at the back of a military coup in 2017, pledged to mend the economy but things have only got worse with shops running short of basic commodities like bank notes, sugar and the staple cornmeal.

Fuel Price: I Have No Intention Of Inflicting Hardship On Nigerians, Says Buhari

 

 

President Muhammadu Buhari says he has no intention of inflicting additional hardship on Nigerians.

He declared that there are no plans to increase fuel price and also restated his promise of ridding the nation of corruption and the oil and gas sector of corruption.

The President said this when he met with newly elected officers of the Trade Union Congress (TUC) in his office, in Abuja. The TUC delegation was led by the National President, Quadri Olaleye.

READ ALSO: FG Vows To Keep Borders Shut Till Neighbouring Countries Comply

President Buhari disclosed this when he responded to a request by the group not to increase the price of fuel and promised to sustain the momentum in his second tenure and lift millions of Nigerians out of poverty.

He added that the key agenda of the inaugural Federal executive council meeting focused on the medium-term expenditure framework which includes the minimum wage as he re-echoed a commitment to implement the new national minimum wage.

 

Leader of the delegation, Quadri Olaleye of the Food, beverage, and tobacco senior staff association who recently emerged as the new National President of the TUC, replacing Bobboi Kaigama led the14-member National administrative council of the union to the President.

The Minister of Labour, Doctor Chris Ngige was also at the meeting.

 

See more photos from the meeting below:

Zimbabwe Protests After Fuel Price Hike

Police officers make way for an ambulance by removing stones from a barricade during a “stay-away” demonstration against the doubling of fuel prices on January 14, 2019 in Emakhandeni township, Bulawayo.  Zinyange AUNTONY / AFP

 

Angry protesters barricaded roads with burning tyres and rocks in Zimbabwe on Monday after the government more than doubled the price of fuel in a bid to improve supplies as the country battles its worst gasoline shortages in a decade.

Protesters turned back drivers and blocked buses from carrying passengers in Zimbabwe’s two main cities of Harare and Bulawayo as the main labour federation called for a three-day nationwide strike.

Soldiers were deployed at a shopping centre in Bulawayo’s township of Entumbane where protesters looted shops.

Demonstrators in the second city had attacked minibusses heading to the city center and used burning tyres and stones to block the main routes into town while some schools were turning away pupils fearing for their safety.

Shops closed in downtown Harare as riot police patrolled the streets and a military helicopter flew over the capital.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa on Saturday night announced a more than a 100-percent rise in the price of petrol and diesel in a move he said would end fuel shortages.

“We have suffered enough,” author Philani Nyoni who was part of the protest in Bulawayo.

“The government is now aware that we are not happy with their stupid policies like the fuel price increase,” said Nyoni, calling on the president who is on a tour of Europe, to return home to “sort out things”.

‘We have suffered enough’ 

“We want Mnangagwa to know our displeasure in his failure,” said another Bulawayo protester, Mthandazo Moyo,  22.

“Mugabe was evil but he listened,” he added, referring to former autocratic and long-time ruler Robert Mugabe, who was ousted in November 2017.

Residents in Epworth, a poor suburb east of the capital Harare, on Monday, woke up to find boulders blocking roads and the protesters set ablaze a tent at a police post.

“It’s tense since early morning,” Nhamo Tembo, an Epworth resident said.

Zimbabwe’s economy has been in a slump for more than a decade, with cash shortages, high unemployment and recently a scarcity of staples such as bread and cooking oil.

In a televised address late Saturday, Mnangagwa said prices of petrol and diesel would more than double to tackle a shortfall caused by increased fuel usage and “rampant” illegal trading.

Petrol prices rose from $1.24 a liter to $3.31 (2.89 euros), with diesel up from $1.36 a liter to $3.11 starting Sunday – one of the highest pump prices in the world.

The main labour alliance, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has called for a three-day stay-at-home strike as it said the government had shown a clear lack of empathy for the already overburdened poor.

Government has accused the strike organisers of pushing a political “regime change” agenda and of “subversive political activities”.

“It has become obvious that there is deliberate plan to undermine and challenge the prevailing constitutional order,” said government spokesman Nick Mangwana in a statement late Sunday night.

He warned that government will “respond appropriately” against “all those who have been conspiring to subvert peace, law and order in the country”.

 ‘Subversive political activities’ 

He accused unnamed opposition parties of disguising themselves as civic groups and of sponsoring civil unrest.

Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa said: “We have a national crisis which is descending into a humanitarian crisis”.

Mnangagwa took over from Mugabe following military intervention before winning the disputed election in July.

He has announced a package of measures to help state workers after strikes by doctors and teachers over poor pay.

Doctors in state hospitals went on a 40-day strike beginning early December demanding salaries be paid in US dollars and improved work conditions.

Teachers unions called a strike last week for better pay but their calls went largely unheeded.

Mnangagwa announced “a package of measures to cushion government workers.”

He also warned the government would come down hard on “elements bent on taking advantage of the current fuel shortages to cause and sponsor unrest and instability in the country.”

When he took over from Mugabe, Mnangagwa pledged to revive the moribund economy and end the country’s international isolation.

AFP

Senate Steps Down Bill Proposing N5 Fuel Levy

senate, CCTThe Senate has stepped down the controversial National Roads Funds Bill 2017, which proposed a levy of N5 per litre of petrol purchased by motorists.

This followed widespread condemnation of the bill by organised labour, the National Association of Nigerian Students and Nigerians in general.

The sponsor of the bill Senator Kabiru Gaya at Thursday’s plenary session denied plans to introduce an additional N5 fuel levy, pointing out that the proposed N5 is to be deducted from the existing template of N145 per litre of fuel.

He explained that it would provide predictable funding for roads in Nigeria and create an environment for an effective Public-Private collaboration.

But the Senate stepped down the report to enable other relevant committees to go through its content.

Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu who presided over plenary however maintained that Senate had no plan to increase pump price.

The bill is one of 13 high priority economic recovery bills recommended by the National Assembly Business Environment Roundtable to the lawmakers for passage.

It is aimed at supporting the funding and maintenance of roads in Nigeria.

Sources of revenue proposed by the bill include international vehicle transit charges, road funds surcharge of 0.5 percent taxed on the assessed value of any vehicle imported into the country; inter-state mass transit charge of 0.5 percent deductible from the fare paid by passengers to commercial mass transit operators on inter-state roads, among others.

Its proposal that a fuel levy of N5 per litre on petroleum products as well as toll gates charges, however, proved controversial.

PPPRA, Fuel Scarcity

Apart from organised labour and NANS, the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties also criticised the plan and warned that any attempt to increase the price of fuel would be resisted.

READ ALSO: CNPP Warns Senate, FG Against Fuel Tax

On Tuesday, the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency had urged Nigerians to ignore news of a N5 increase in the price of petrol, saying it had not approved any price increase.

“The PPPRA has observed the growing speculation on a purported imminent increase in the pump price of PMS by N5 per litre. The agency hereby wishes to dispel this rumour and assuage the concerns of Nigerians,” the agency, which is authorised to regulate the price of petroleum products in the country,  had said in a statement by its Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu.

“As the agency of government saddled with the responsibility of regulating petroleum products pricing, supply, and distribution, we want to assure the Nigerian public that the subsisting pump price cap for PMS remains N145 per litre across the country and as such, Nigerians should please ignore the speculation on the price increase.”

 

Ignore Reports Of Fuel Price Increase, PPPRA Tells Nigerians

The Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency has asked Nigerians to ignore news of a N5 increase in the price of petrol, saying it has not approved any price increase.

The agency, which is authorised to regulate the price of petroleum products in the country, said this in a statement in Abuja today.

Organised labour, the National Association of Nigerian Students and other groups have in recent days criticised the Senate and Federal Government over a plan to increase fuel price and vowed to resist any such attempt.

The criticism came after the Senate Committee on Works in its National Road Fund Establishment Bill, proposed a fuel levy charge that will make motorists to pay N5 tax on every litre of petrol bought at any filling station.

PPPRA, Fuel Scarcity

But the PPRA said it did not improve a hike in fuel price.

“The PPPRA has observed the growing speculation on a purported imminent increase in the pump price of PMS by N5 per litre. The agency hereby wishes to dispel this rumour and assuage the concerns of Nigerians,” the agency said in the statement by its Executive Secretary, Abdulkadir Saidu.

“As the agency of government saddled with the responsibility of regulating petroleum products pricing, supply, and distribution, we want to assure the Nigerian public that the subsisting pump price cap for PMS remains N145 per litre across the country and as such, Nigerians should please ignore the speculation on the price increase.”

CNPP Warns FG, Senate Against Planned Fuel Tax

PPPRA, Fuel ScarcityThe Conference of Nigeria Political Parties has joined organised labour in rejecting the planned increment of prices of petroleum products.

“We assure the Senate and the Federal Government that their proposed N5 per litre of fuel tax will be resisted,” the CNPP said in a statement by its Secretary General, Willy Ezugwu, on Sunday.

It accused the National Assembly of taking more anti-people decisions than resolutions that could better the lives of the already impoverished masses of Nigeria and warned the Presidency against inflicting more pain on the people.

The CNPP argued that the National Roads Fund Bill if passed, would impose the controversial tax on Nigerians.

It said, “Our findings have shown that the bill titled ‘National Roads Fund (Establishment, etc) Bill 2017’, proposing that N5 to be paid per litre of fuel imported into the country is a ploy by the Federal Government to impose more hardship on Nigerians at a time the burden of recession in the country is becoming unbearable.

“We thought that the Federal Government should be thinking of reducing the already biting hardship in the country after failing to fulfil the promised increment in minimum wage and non-payment of arrears of workers’ salaries and allowances in the past two years.

“It seems that the current government at the federal level and their National Assembly collaborators enjoy inflicting more and more pains on Nigerian masses.

“We wonder why the Senate Committee on Works in its final report on the bill would make such proposal. Are they saying that the only way this government can raise funds is by increasing the pump price of petroleum prices and punishing the masses?”

Organised labour and the National Association of Nigerian Students had earlier condemned the plan, warning that they would resist any attempt to further hike the price of petroleum products.

“Members of the National Assembly should firstly sample the views of their constituencies before deliberating on such a bill, which to us is not going to be allowed to be part of the additional suffering of the people of this country,” the Secretary General of NANS, Mr Kahiru Mohammed, had said.

Petrol Now Sells For N150 Per Litre In Benin City

Petrol Now Sells For N150 Per Litre In Benin CitySome independent petroleum marketers in Edo state are now selling petrol for 150 naira per litre instead of the regulated price of 145 naira.

Motorists, as well as petroleum marketers, who spoke to Channels Television in Benin City, the Edo state capital, lamented the increase in the price saying it has brought more hardship on the people.

Meanwhile, some fuel stations in the state did not have products for sale. Some who had the product were selling above the approved price of 145 Naira a litre.

A fuel marketer, Valentine Aisuen, said: “PMS is not readily available in most of the depots and apart from that, the price at which we are buying it is high because of the limited product that is available.

“We are buying at 145, we haulage for three naira and it gets here at 148 and we now sell for 150.”

The marketers who were seen selling at the recommended price said it would not be for long before they join the fray as they were not making profit from their sales.

“If you check our pump price now we still remain at 145 naira per litre, our meter reading is accurate.

“We are keeping that to make sure we remain with our customer but we are going to do it for the time being, pending when the union will come up with their report for us to shut down because the cost of buying now, I don’t think anybody is making profit if you cannot sell above 145 naira per litre.”

Unstable Power

Some motorists also lamented the hardship the increase in price has brought to the people.

A driver told Channels TV: “Passengers complain, drivers too are complaining because things are difficult. We heard they have increased it to 200 naira; this morning some people bought for 150, some others for 200.

“Selling above that 150 is really biting us and things are not moving well. Supposing things are moving on and the power is stable then we can cope. But the power is not stable and the energy we are getting which is the fuel is very high, so it’s biting everyone one of us; we are feeling it real bad.”

Attempts to ascertain the cause of the scarcity at the Benin depot of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was met with stiff resistance by the chief security officer who denied the news crew access to key officers of the depot.

“I am working under instruction, don’t provoke me this afternoon; I beg you in the name of God don’t provoke me,” he warned.

Although the head of the Department Of Petroleum Resources (DPR) was not on seat, another official who wished not to be named said that the scarcity was due to power outage at the Warri refinery which has now been addressed.

He promised that the situation would normalize soon.

NNPC Opens Bid For Crude Oil Sale And Purchase

Maikanti-BaruThe Group Managing Director of Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, Dr Maikanti Baru, says only refiners, big traders and companies with substantial investment in the oil and gas sector, will scale through the bid for the 2016 to 2017 term contracts for Nigeria crude oil sale.

A total of 224 companies are bidding for the 12 month term contracts tender, for a number of slots the Group Managing Director says will be decided on actual production focus by February 2017.

Representatives from the 224 companies converged on the amphitheater of the NNPC for the opening of the bid.

Dr Baru, who opened the bid after a test of transparency, said that the volume of crude put out for the contract bid is nearly 700,000 barrels of crude per day.

He added that the actual number of companies to emerge from the bidding would be decided in the first quarter of 2017.

The NNPC GMD also stated that Nigeria’s crude is not struggling for market, contrary to speculation but continues to earn premium, with major markets in Europe and Asia, with the United States recently added to the list.

No Plan To Increase Fuel Price, Says NNPC

DPR, Niger State, PetrolThe Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) on Monday said there were no immediate plans to increase fuel prices.

The Group Managing Director, NNPC, Mr Maikanti Baru, asked reporters if they “have seen any memo to that effect” insisting that there is “nothing like that in the offing.”

Reports say fuel marketers are pressing the government to remove the current gasoline price cap of 145 naira ($0.4394) per litre, as they say they are struggling to buy the fuel, which priced in dollars, and sell it in Nigeria in naira at a profit.

A press release over the weekend from former NNPC leaders called the current price cap “not congruent” given the foreign exchange rate and low crude oil prices.

“We don’t want any cap because of the fluctuations of the dollar rate in the country,” Chinedu Ukadike, Chief of Staff to the National President of the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), told Reuters.

Removal of the cap would also allow the forces of supply and demand to determine the price of petroleum products, he said.

The naira plunged in value, hitting an all-time low of 420 to the dollar on the unofficial market late last month.

The Minister of State for Petroleum, Mr Ibe Kachikwu told Reuters that talks with militant groups were still ongoing, and that the country’s crude production stood at 1.6 million bpd despite force majeure declarations in place on four crude oil streams.