Majority of Kenyans on the edge over high cost of living

A large percentage of Kenyans rate the rising food, fuel, poverty levels and cost of living as the main challenges now.

An opinion poll released Friday by Synovate showed that 33 per cent cite the price of food, the cost of fuel, and poverty as their main concerns.

Of those polled, 24 per cent said food, hunger, and famine remained the most critical, with 19 per cent citing unemployment as their main problem.

The poll was released a day before the cost of transport expected to sharply rise today as the decision by Ministry of Energy to revise pump prices led to public fury.

The 18 and 10 per cent increase on diesel and petrol prices will also have serious effects on farming, manufacturing, and transport.

New price guidelines issued Thursday by Energy Regulatory Commission saw retail prices of petroleum products go up by as much as 13 per cent. A litre of petrol costs as high as Sh123 in some far away place like Mandera.

Under the new guidelines that set price caps for essential petroleum products, Super petrol retail at Sh111.17, diesel at Sh107, and kerosene at Sh90.90 in Nairobi.

The revised rates were released on Thursday, 24 hours before the prices took effect, leading to massive hoarding of fuel products by petrol stations.

And yesterday manufacturers of essential commodities and service providers, including matatu owners, said they would pass on the cost to consumers. News that Nairobi residents will from Monday pay at least Sh20 more for fare in at least four routes has come as a shock to many, with reports of planned demonstrations to force the Energy Minister, Kiraitu Murungi, to reverse pump prices.

The Consumers Federation of Kenya has called for a major peaceful protest on Tuesday to condemn the increment in fuel prices.

In a move that could replicate the recent protests that have created skirmishes in Uganda, Cofek’s Secretary General Stephen Mutoro has appealed to motorists and commuters to walk to work and keep roads free of vehicles, as part of the protest to highlight their woes.

Simon Kimutai, national chairman Matatu Owners Association, said fares would go up at least by 30 per cent starting Monday. On average public service vehicles charge Sh70 on most Nairobi routes. Fares go up to Sh90 more for a one-way trip across the city. This will also affect commuters, especially with the Easter around the corner.

Six per cent of the Synovate poll respondents said their biggest problem was politics and corruption.

Of the least concern to Kenyans at one per cent is matters concerning health, water, roads, electricity, housing, and education.

Synovate lead researcher Tom Wolf said Nyanza led as the province where many respondents, at 41 per cent, felt the main problem facing Kenyans was the high cost of living, fuel, and food.

Western Province topped, as the province where the respondents at 46 per cent felt the biggest problem at the moment was hunger and famine.

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