Why there was no fuel crisis in Rwanda

The events that played out in the last four weeks in the streets of Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali as the oil crisis started biting hard, revealed a lot about how individual states within the East African Community run their economies.Regional media were awash with chaos gripping Kampala that revealed the vulnerability Ugandans endured as events in the Middle East took their toll on East Africans.
By Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah
By Fred Oluoch-Ojiwah

The events that played out in the last four weeks in the streets of Nairobi, Kampala and Kigali as the oil crisis started biting hard, revealed a lot about how individual states within the East African Community run their economies.

Regional media were awash with chaos gripping Kampala that revealed the vulnerability Ugandans endured as events in the Middle East took their toll on East Africans.

Is it correct to blame the volatility in the Middle East whole scale? Not really! Rwanda is a notable exception.  Firstly, there were no riots or situations of panic. Everything was normal.

The pump prices in Kigali remained stable while supply remained sober. I am talking about sobriety due to the fact that I did not see motorists in Kigali scramble for fuel.

Rwanda is located at the furthest end of the oil refineries in Dar-es-salaam or Mombasa.  When one considers this very important imperative of Rwanda being at the furthest location from the major regional  supply chains unlike Nairobi and Kampala, then one important question is; Why did Rwanda not experience the  kind of chaos that Ugandans and Kenyans had to endure?

The correlation between events in the Middle East and the situation in the East African Community countries besides one, is indeed a bit buffling.

The Kenyan media say that Kenya lives precariously in terms of security of supplies. This means that a small hitch in the supply chain can precipitate chaos like those evident last week.

Kenyan media report that Kenya as an important actor in the stability of the fuel supply chain, could not rise to the occasion to order traders who owned 19 million litres of petroleum products to release then to avert the chaos.

And so the chaos persisted for five days despite intervention by the state later on.

Even as the situation stabilised in Nairobi, the question that occupied the minds of many was how prepared Kenyans were, to deal with such a crisis.

According to Kenya government regulations, oil companies are supposed to have at least 12 days of strategic reserves. However, it was clear that Kenyans have not invested in fuel reserves.

Out of over 50 oil dealers, less than five have adequate oil storage facilities.

Early this week, Kenyan public officials announced that the mess would be tackled. Kenyan energy officials are now talking about having in place a new petroleum sector action plan to deal with the inefficiencies that brought about the chaos. The situation in Uganda is not any better.

This is due to the fact that the kind of violence meted on Ugandans during weeks of chaos, was halted by heavy state security organs. 

This an important indicator of what needs to be done to avert future chaos.
 
What is the situation in Kigali? As a landlocked country,  I am reliably informed that strategic reserves are available to allay biting oil shortages in Uganda and Kenya.

Furthermore, pump prices are now losely monitored to stamp outv unscrupulous oil dealers.

As the ultimate protector of public good, the state can step in with measures to cushion any foreseeable chaos.
 
What is the end result? That a country at the furthest end of the supply chain could have cheaper pump prices than those near the sea ports remains confounding.

More so, it speaks volumes about the responsibility the government of Rwanda attaches to its role as protector of the public harmony.

The author is an editor with The New Times
Ojiwah@gmail.com

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