Food prices to hurt consumers in wake of petrol levy rise

Thursday, September 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
Peter Mutugi, a tomato trader displays goods at Kongowea market in Mombasa yesterday. Photo/PD/NDEGWA GATHUNGU

Harrison Kivisu and Bernard Sigei

Consumers have started feeling the pinch of high cost of living following the sharp rise of food commodities.

The fuel cost rise has left many Kenyans suffering from inflation that has been worsened by economic shocks attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit economies hard. 

And even as the debate on the cost of fuel rages in Parliament, suppliers of key food commodities at the Kongowea market, Mombasa have doubled in the past two days owing to the cost of transportation. A spot check by Business Hub in Nairobi also established that prices of various commodities have increased.

“Increase of fuel price has affected everything like food in restaurants and transport of produce.

We used transport a sack of onions from Tanzania at Sh70,000 a lorry but now we are asking for Sh150,000,” said Isaac Mwarori, a driver plying Tanzania-Nairobi route.

According to Steve Mwangi, a driver who transports cabbages from various locations in Kenya, earlier, a lorry would carry cabbages from the farm at Sh1,500 but now it is Sh1,800 due to the in fuel prices.

Kongowea market

At Kongowea market, by yesterday the price of a 70 kg crate of tomato was Sh4,500 up from Sh3,500. Similarly, a 120 kg tomato crate  is now costing Sh8,500 up from Sh6,500 before the fuel went up. This means the burden will now be pushed to the consumers.

“We are suffering because suppliers of the market have increased prices of major food commodities; this is because fuel prices have also increased.

The way things are, there is no value for money because the economy is still down due to Covid-19,” according to Kongowea market tomato section chairman Julius Mtegi.

He said the situation has been worsened by multiple charges between cross-county borders.

Tomato suppliers from Kajiado who supply Kongowea market are forced to pay more.

“We are now selling four tomatoes for Sh50 up from Sh20 and this has forced many buyers to shy away.

We are suffering because the cost of transportation of the tomatoes has sharply risen,” said Josephat Kimathi, a tomato seller.

Potato sack

A survey by Business Hub in the market established that suppliers of potatoes at the market have hiked the cost of a potato sack to Sh7,000 up from Sh5,000 two weeks ago, translating to a cost of Sh70 per one kilogramme up from Sh50 per kg.

“What do we do, we have children in school who are dependent on us, our customers have run away after we raised the prices, now we are in a ‘wait -and-see situation’ because we have no income at all,” said Lillian Orlando, a potato seller.

In the Onion section, according to Halima Athman she has nothing to take home because the cost of an onion net is much higher than the normal sale thus she has been operating on a loss.

“We are operating at a loss, we can’t put food on table because we can’t make any profit from sales after suppliers increased the costs.

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