Lamu, KENYA: Lamu boat operators have now hiked fares amidst the growing 16% VAT on petroleum products stalemate.
Travelers using boats into and out of Lamu and between the various adjacent islands in the archipelago have now been slapped with a 35% increase on their usual boat fares.
Normally,a boat trip from Lamu island to the Mokowe jetty on the mainland costs Sh.150 in a speedboat and Sh.100 is a slow boat.
The prices for the same destination now stand at Sh.200 for the speedboat users and Sh.150 for the slow boat users.
A hired speedboat from Lamu island to the Mokowe jetty normally costs Sh.1000, however with the new VAT the same has now been doubled to Sh.2000.
A normal trip for those arriving in Lamu town from the Manda airport just across the island is normally Sh.150 in a speedboat and Sh.100 in a slow boat.
They are now paying Sh.200 for speedboats and Sh.150 for slow boats.
The same distance in a hired speedboat goes for Sh.500 but that has now gone up double to Sh.1000.
Those bearing the most brunt are those to far-flung islands like Mtangawanda, Kizingitini, Faza, Mkokoni, Pate and Kiunga and other areas on the border of Lamu and Somalia.
A normal trip from Lamu island to Mtangawanda or Kizingitini would cost Sh.500 in a speedboat.
Passengers are now paying Sh.1000 for the same distance.
The same distance in a slower boat would cost Sh.300 but that has now gone up to Sh.500.
While confirming the new fares on Tuesday, Lamu Boat Operators chairperson Hassan Awadh said the new fares will remain so for as long as the VAT on petroleum products lasts.
He said fuel prices have gone up considerably and that they are only adjusting to the situation through the fare hikes.
“A normal 20 liter jerrican of petrol would cost us Sh.2500 but right now we are getting it at Sh.3500.People need to see why we just have to hike fares otherwise we will be running the business at a very huge loss if we stick to the old fares,” said Awadh.
Boat operators also partly blamed the fare hikes to the recent fuel shortage that hit Lamu town over the weekend.
“We didn’t have fuel the entire weekend.But now that we have it, its extremely costly. While we would normally buy a liter at Sh.130, we are now buying the same at Sh.175.It’s a ridiculous amount. We must hike so that we are sharing this experience with our passengers, it’s unavoidable,” said Abdul Yusuf.
Locals have appealed to President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene and save them the ‘tough’ life they are now being subjected to courtesy of the new fuel levy.