Motorists and Matatus Rush to Tanzania for Cheap Oil

The Namanga one stop border post
The Namanga one stop border post.

Motorists, including matatu operators, are increasingly turning to Tanzanian pumps to avoid the high prices at Kenyan petrol stations.

On Thursday, the Energy and Petroleum Regulatory Authority (EPRA) raised the price for a litre of petrol to Ksh211, a higher price than the pump price in Tanzania which stands at Ksh193.49. Diesel, on the other hand, retails at Ksh200.99 compared to Ksh196.19 in the neighbouring country.

Speaking to, Motorists Association of Kenya (MAK) Chairman Peter Murima noted that the hiked price was destined to cost the state revenues collected through taxation.

He explained that the local purchasing power had significantly reduced due to reduction of traffic as well as some individuals turning to Tanzania for fuel, benefitting the President Samia Suluhu-led government.

Fuel Pump
A person fueling a vehicle.
Kenyan wallstreet

However, he advised that the benefits were shortlived since the Tanzanian Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority (EWURA), an equivalent of EPRA, was taking its notes from Kenya and the price is expected to surge soon.

"What we are having in the market, there is no much activity  because apart from the very essential. The traffic is thin and those who are driving are suffering," he stated.

"We know that Tanzania's equivalent of EPRA has benchmarked in Kenya, it is just a matter of time before they increase their prices. Buying in Tanzania can only benefit those near the boarder."

At the beginning of August, shortly after the benchmark, Tanzania increased the prices of petroleum products by up to Ksh27 per litre. 

The rise was occasioned by Dollar shortage as well as inadequate fuel stocks which led to lower importation capacity; a similar predicament to one Kenya found itself in.

Kenyan fuel pumps located near the border have also recorded steep drop in sales after the mass exodus.

A pump attendant indicated that his sales had reduced from 5,000 litres a day to less than half.

"Earlier, we sold 5,000 litres. Since the increase, motorists are vanishing," lamented an attendant.

"The value of fuel is so high that many prefer going to the neighbouring country," appealed a motorist.

Other sources indicated that most stations in Mandera, which shares a border with Somalia, has two varying fuel, the expensive version from Kenya and the relatively cheaper one from the neighbouring country.

Murima also indicated that should the government increase fuel prices Ksh10 until February 2024 as claimed by Trade Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria, the state risks grounding the transport sector which has recorded a decrease in road traffic.

Motorists on a Colossal Traffic Jam Along Busy Uhuru Highway in Nairobi
Traffic jam witnessed along busy Uhuru Highway in Nairobi in 2019
Simon Kiragu