Fuel Shortage in Uganda

The price of the availabe fuel has been doubled in the city and trebled in the upcountry areas. This is now affecting the transport fares everywhere and the consumable goods.

Following the developments in Kenya, where supporters of the defeated presidential candidate took to the streets in running battles with security forces, the flow of fuel to Uganda was immediately affected. Already on New Year’s Eve long queues formed at the few stations with sufficient supplies, but rationing was invoked with a maximum of 20 litres per car while prices rose to an unprecedented Ushs 3.000 per litre ( US $ 1.78) at the increasingly few still open or willing to sell stations. First reports coming from Juba / Southern Sudan also indicate that the price for fuel jumped above the 5 US Dollar mark per litre and was still rising. Other goods are also stuck in transit, while exports like coffee and tea for Mombasa from Uganda and other hinterland countries are now halted at the Kenyan border points.
At the same time, travellers using the services of the bus companies on the routes from Kenya and Tanzania to Uganda and beyond were also stranded as no public service vehicles were moving in the face of declared or undeclared curfews. Petrol stations and cash points are also said to be running dry across Kenya, compounding an already difficult situation. Many locals across Eastern Africa use busses to reach their destinations in the region as it is an affordable means of travel, compared to the cost of air tickets, once the extremely high regulatory taxes are added. Subsequently a sizeable number of people who had gone to the Kenya coast by bus or their own cars for the Christmas / New Year holiday are now unable to return. In turn Kenyan visitors now equally ‘stuck’ in Uganda, as reports have emerged that opposition supporters committed a major crime by burning 25 children and many more adults in a church, where they had sought refuge. This happened near the Western Kenyan town of Eldoret, where most of the transit traffic between Uganda and Kenya passes and where also the fuel pipeline head is located, from where Ugandan an other hinterland countries pick their supplies. This will put more strain yet on the already inflamed ethnic relations, which the opposition has exploited for their own political ends.
First reports on charter operations to Mombasa also indicate a reduction in arrivals with outbound flights fully booked and tourists scrambling for seats to return home. Some of the hoteliers at the Kenyan coast known to this correspondent have privately expressed their concern over the developments, saying it could spoil the 4 year upswing of the tourism industry, which yielded record figures for 2007 but now has a rather bleakish outlook for 2008. South coast hoteliers have also lamented the fact that tourist traffic needed to go through the Likoni part of Mombasa where vandalism and political fighting was ripe. Likoni was at the centre of previous ethnic clashes which subsequently led to Kenya’s tourism collapse in the late 90’s.
In a related development Kenya Airways has reportedly suspended flights to and from Kisumu – an opposition stronghold – due to lack of fuel at the airport and domestic flights in and out of Mombasa also appear delayed, keeping scores of passengers at the airport waiting for their aircraft to arrive to connect to their international flights home and away from trouble.