Govt's Plan to Introduce Carbon Tax for Motorists Faces Resistance

Photo collage between motorists on traffic in Nairobi and a car indicating fuel low
Photo collage between motorists on traffic in Nairobi and a car indicating fuel low
Ma3Route and autoxpress

A section of motorists opposed plans to introduce taxes for every tonne of carbon emitted to facilitate the switch to clean energy.

The motorists, led by former Mandera Senator Billow Kerrow, argued that the new measures contained in the Draft Green Fiscal Incentive Policy Framework would overburden Kenyans.

Kerrow maintained that food insecurity should first be addressed before introducing the new charge to motorists.

"Traffic Congestion Tax: misplaced priorities! A nation that can't even feed its citizens, provide medical care to the majority and half its population living in abject poverty worries itself about carbon emissions. Some of our technocrats are out of touch with reality," Kerrow stated during an interview on KTN News on Thursday, February 2.

Traffic police officers stop motorist at a checkpoint. On Wednesday, May 13, 2020, NTSA issued a warning to motorists.
Traffic police officers stop motorists at a checkpoint along Nairobi - Nakuru Highway in May 2020.

Politician Buzeki Kiprop Bundotich insisted that the government will have to devise another way of raising revenue since introducing the carbon tax would eliminate the fuel levy.

A motorist based in Nairobi lauded the proposal arguing that it was key to addressing the issue of climate change. However, he faulted the government, arguing that its timing was misplaced.

"The issue at hand is very expensive, so maybe we could have the same proposal but later on," a cab driver stated.

"It will really affect us in a big way, because at the moment, almost everyone is using fuel in one way or another," another matatu driver stated.

While defending the move to introduce the carbon tax, Davis Chirchir, Cabinet Secretary for Energy and Petroleum, urged Kenyan motorists to consider converting their engines to operate using electricity.

"We are in talks with a number of countries regarding developing of charging facilities to have a cheap framework of being able to transfer from fossil fuel run vehicle to electric vehicles," Chirchir stated on Wednesday, February 1.

The policy framework indicated that Kenya's transport system is heavily on fossil fuels, especially road, rail and maritime and inland water transport.

The proposal was based on Kenya's 2017 Emission Baseline, which indicated that transport is the fourth largest carbon emitter after agriculture, electricity generation, land-use change and forestry.

" A lack of efficient road and rail public mass transit systems means that private transport is most prevalent, which is the main driver of transportation GHG emission growth," the framework added.

"To facilitate the switch to clean energy and foster the ‘polluter pays principle, the government should consider implementing a carbon tax. Correct carbon pricing will send a right signal to markets and private investors which is pivotal in creating an enabling environment for private investment," the policy framework read in part.

However, the National Treasury did not indicate which model would be adopted to charge motorists. The policy framework maintained that other countries had adopted the policy to tackle climate change.

"More than 40 governments globally have implemented a form of carbon pricing, whether it be through direct taxation on fossil fuel producers or cap-and-trade programs," the framework read in part.

"European Countries have been the frontrunners in implementing carbon taxes that are now implemented throughout the world," it added.

Vehicles vroom along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi CBD
Vehicles vroom along Kenyatta Avenue in Nairobi CBD.