Wednesday May 4
Quotes from Nation, Kenya’s leading daily:
“Motorists made long queues yesterday as one of the most severe and bizarre fuel shortages hit many parts of the country. Many people ran out of fuel on the road…. Petrol stations closed after panic purchases. ….the Government confirmed that there was 19 million liters in storage tanks in Nairobi”.
Standard, the second largest paper summarized: “Fuel, fuel everywhere but not a drop at the petrol stations!” Standard also stated that if the situation continues, “it will be a matter of days before the crisis will hit Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda which rely on Kenya for their supplies.”
The next day the blame game started: It is not the Governments fault, claimed the Government, not surprisingly. The marketers, the big oil companies that bring the product to the filling stations, are to be blamed. Then it was revealed (or simply a rumor?) that there were all of a sudden new market players, that had hoarded large volumes and did not transport it to the filling station. The reason (more rumors), was that this was in anticipation of tax cuts or other Government interventions that would make their stock increase in value, and thus their profit.
There were at least two common denominators in the commentaries and analysis One, there is no shortage of fuel, the shortage is construed. Two, some people are profiting from this.
Today, day three, the crisis seems to have abated, more filling stations have petrol, the streets are only slightly more than normally congested, which is bad enough.
The parliament will discuss the issue; an MP has already demanded explanations. My guess is that very little will come out of all frets and struts. No satisfactory explanations will ever be provided, no one will be accused of manipulating, and even if they were, they would not be taken to court or held accountable in some other shape or form. And if they did, the golden rule of impunity would apply.
Kenya is certainly changing and it is moving economically, even when the cars are not, we must not forget that.
But there is also a lot of déjà vu – feelings: obsession with politics, wrangling and positioning among the elite, many of the leading faces, the amazing resilience of the Kenyans.
Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose