By Ogova Ondego
Published April 18, 2011
According to the Consumers Federation of Kenya (Cofek), the public will assemble at Uhuru Park in Nairobi at noon from where speeches will be delivered before the procession takes Kenyatta Avenue in the Nairobi CBD to present a petition to Energy Minister Kiraitu Murungi, Parliamentary Speaker Kenneth Marende, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and President Mwai Kibaki.
Saying the current prices of fuel and food are fast becoming unbearable for most Kenyans and that they cannot be sustained, Cofek argues that the government must act to minimise the adverse ‘social, economic, environmental and political’ effect of the runaway prices on the country.
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Dismissing the various excuses (weak shilling, high inflation rate, the Northern Africa and Arab world crisis) that have been have been advanced to explain the rising costs of living as immaterial, Cofek says the fuel prices pose a serious threat to Kenya’s stability as the country heads into a general election in 2012.
The steep increases, Cofek says, could be due “to outright corruption and institutional gross inefficiency” and that “some quarters could be using the fuel crisis to fundraise for the 2012 general elections.” Cofek further wonders why “no one is talking about the internal factors of the high prices” or why “neither President Mwai Kibaki nor Prime Minister Raila Odinga has found it necessary and urgent to speak about the fuel and food crisis.”
A Cofek statement calling consumers to a peaceful demonstration in Nairobi and other major towns in Kenya says, “We are disturbed that the Minister for Energy, Mr Kiraitu Murungi, has been playing politics with the matter of fuel prices for a while. He has been left to walk away with many unexplained issues from the ‘Triton Scandal’ in which the tax-payer lost Sh7.8 Billion to politically-connected shenanigans: the irregular award of the 30% quota for the National Oil Corporation of Kenya (NOCK) which NOCK couldn’t service; the poorly representative (stakeholder and regional) key energy parastatals and the Energy Regulatory Commission. The Minister is yet to explain the fraud that was the so called ‘free energy saving bulbs’ that were hardly distributed and accounted for.”