More floating fuel stations have been established in the Indian Ocean in Lamu County following safety concerns raised on the island during fire outbreaks.
The Business Daily has established that such facilities have been opened in Shela beach and Mokowe where they did not exist before.
In 2014, the county government directed dealers in petrol and gas products to move their businesses from Lamu town into the middle of the Indian Ocean channel where they operate atop boats.
Fire tragedies had by then increased in shops selling petrol and gas, prompting the county administration to take the drastic measure.
The island has narrow streets which makes movement of vehicles impossible.
Lamu Old town has five fuel floating stations operating in the middle of the ocean while in Shela island, two have been introduced. In Mokowe, one fuel station has been erected.
Business people interviewed said despite the fact that operating a fuel floating station in the ocean is a costly venture, they have good profits.
The operators sell a litre of petrol at between Sh171 and Sh180 while diesel is sold for between ShSh143 to Sh150.
Establishing a simple fuel floating station is similar to buying a whole water bus which goes for between Sh2 million to Sh3 million, plus the installation of storage tanks, drums and anchor gadgets.
Dealers also incur costs of having an extra special boat to provide fuel to clients.
“Establishing and maintaining a fuel floating station is an expensive affair but still, we’re convinced by the huge profit accrued when you operate one of such facilities here in Lamu. That’s why many of us have embarked on venturing in fuel floating stations,” said Abdallah Omar.
“During the days when we used to operate petrol and gas kiosks within Lamu town, we were always worried about the losses incurred as a result of fire tragedies. Interestingly, operating a fuel floating station smack right into the ocean has given us confidence about the safety of our businesses. We no longer have fear about fire incidents anymore,” said Hussein Bwanadi.
Boat operators and residents in Shela and Mokowe where new fuel floating stations have been introduced said the presence of such facilities has reduced the frustrations sailors underwent in refilling their boats, dhows and other marine vessels.