Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Uganda to get fuel from Mombasa

By Chris Kiwawulo, The New Vision, Kampala, 05/12/2008

THE Kenyan Government has allowed Ugandan fuel dealers to fetch fuel from Mombasa port as a way of solving the fuel crisis that hit the country a month ago.

Mineral development state minister Kamanda Bataringaya yesterday said the Kenyan energy ministry had formally communicated allowing dealers to drive as far as Mombasa to collect fuel.

“The permanent secretary of the Kenyan energy ministry (Patrick Nyoike) has officially communicated to us allowing dealers to enter the hitherto restricted territory,” Bataringaya revealed.

Initially, it was only Shell Uganda that was allowed to load fuel products directly from Mombasa because it is in charge of supplying Uganda’s thermal power generating companies with diesel.

Bataringaya stated that they had also made formal requests to the Kenya Ports Authority and revenue office to increase hours of operation from the mandatory 12 to ensure that more fuel products get cleared into Uganda.

“We are still negotiating with them. We have also encouraged dealers to send as many trucks as possible to collect fuel since the ban on four-axle trucks reduced the amount of fuel each truck brings in,” he said.

The Kenyan Government effected the ban on four-axle trucks in favour of three-axle ones on September 1. This reduced the amount of fuel the trucks were carrying from 42,000 to 30,000 litres though at the same transport cost.

This, among other reasons caused an increase in fuel prices on the local market. Petrol increased from sh2600 to sh2900, diesel from sh2380 to sh2600 and kerosene from sh2250 to sh2500.

Uganda Taxi Operators and Drivers’ Association national chairman John Ndyomugyenyi appealed to the Government to ensure that there is enough fuel in the country so that transport is not interrupted in the festive season.

But Bataringaya assured the public that the steps taken had resulted into an increase in the fuel flowing into the country on a daily basis and the situation was normalising.
He said besides using Dar Es Salaam port, the dealers were using the Rift Valley Railways (RVR) to bring in more fuel.

Over the weekend, RVR brought in over a million litres of fuel, according to the company’s western region manager, Christina Wadulo. Other 20- tank wagons carrying fuel were due to be cleared at Mombasa, Wadulo stated.

“RVR has been working on a programme to modernise the railways system in Uganda and Kenya and we are confident that with increased efficiency we will move enough fuel to Uganda within a very short time.”

Uganda uses over 1.2m litres of diesel, 543,000 petrol and 300,000 jet fuel daily.