January 3, 2008 / 3:24 PM / 11 years ago

Kenyan turmoil causes fuel rationing in Rwanda

KIGALI (Reuters) - Rwanda has introduced fuel rationing in response to shortages caused by post-election violence in Kenya, which has disrupted supply lines from the port of Mombasa to central and east African countries.

“We have given directives to all petroleum dealers to ration the fuel as one measure of managing the reserves inside the country,” said Protais Mitali, the minister of commerce, industry, investment and tourism.

“For small cars, the maximum will be 10 litres of petrol while for petrol-consuming jeeps, the maximum is 20 litres a day,” the Rwandan minister told Reuters on Thursday.

No trucks carrying petroleum had entered Rwanda since a disputed Kenyan presidential election on December 27 sparked widespread ethnic clashes, Mitali said.

“We are also engaging Tanzanian authorities facilitating the passage of some of our fuel trucks through their territory to do so quickly,” he said.

There were long queues at major petrol stations in the Rwandan capital Kigali, and the government has forbidden anyone from stockpiling petroleum products in jerrycans and drums.

Mitali said the state was selling part of its fuel reserves to private dealers whose petrol stations were running dry, adding that there were major shortages of petrol but enough diesel so far.

Petroleum prices were unaffected despite the fuel crunch because they are not determined by the forces of demand and supply, but the government.

Many residents and businesses across the region have bought what they can, hoarding it for fear of more disruption to come.

The Kenyan crisis has squeezed already scarce supplies of fuel in Uganda and Burundi.

The World Bank said the turmoil in Kenya, a regional hub, would have a major domino effect on the rest of eastern Africa.

“Kenya is the transit point for one quarter of the GDP (gross domestic product) of Uganda and Rwanda, and one third of the GDP of Burundi,” it said in a statement.

“This includes the supply of many essential commodities. Hence, the regional impact of the situation in Kenya could be significant.”

editing by Elizabeth Piper

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