Government cracks down on retailers hiking flour prices

A shop attendant puts in place packets of maize flour in a supermarket shelf photo:courtesy

A trader from Molo town was arraigned in court after he was arrested selling subsidised maize flour at a higher price.

Joseph Gachoka Kariuki, the proprietor of DNN Supermarket, was arrested on June 4 for selling a 2kg packet of flour at Sh100 instead of the recommended Sh90.

Two days ago, four more people were arrested in Malindi for selling the subsidised flour at Sh120.

Appearing before Senior Resident Magistrate Rita Amwayi, Mr Kariuki pleaded guilty and was slapped with a Sh10,000 fine or three months in jail.

“The court hereby finds you guilty of going against the Kenya Gazette Supplement number 74 based on powers bestowed to it under the Price Control Act, 2011 on essential goods,” ruled the magistrate.

Upon his release, Kariuki said he regretted dealing in the product, which he said doesn’t profit retailers.

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“A bale with a dozen packets goes for Sh1,070 wholesale price, which means the price per packet is Sh89.16, yet we are expected to sell it at Sh90. When we do our math as retailers, this is a loss-making business,” said Kariuki.

He said to sustain the supply, retailers have to factor in transport, packaging among other charges incurred until the product reaches the final consumer, a move that the Government has outlawed.

“When we consider all the costs borne by a retailer from the wholesaler to their premises it adds to Sh96.16 per packet. Selling at the set price is unsustainable as the trade is eating into profits made from sale of other products,” he added.

Molo Business Association chairman, Charles Marioko, called on the Government to review the agreement with the manufacturers to ensure traders’ goodwill to supply the product at a cheap price is not taken for granted.

In Kisumu, getting the subsidised flour is an uphill task following introduction of ‘’hidden charges’’ by retailers making it expensive for shoppers to access the commodity.

A spot check by The Standard revealed shoppers could not get the 2kg packet of flour at Sh90 as directed by the Government, but had to part with at least Sh50 more.

Investigation following complaints from the public exposed conditions set by the traders before one can access the flour.

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At some point, a woman who claimed she only had Sh90 caused commotion in one supermarket as the staff tried to dispossess her of the packet of flour. And after an altercation, the furious woman was allowed to leave with the commodity after tension built at the shop premises.

The story was the same along Ang’awa Street, where management of a retail store was intermittently releasing the 5kg packed flour, while demanding that shoppers buy something on top of the flour.

The retail manager confirmed that shoppers had to buy ‘something else’ for them to be allowed to pick one packet of the flour.

The manager said the condition did not amount to intimidation as shoppers had the luxury of picking a product of their choice, as was indicated on a notice pinned on the flour shelf.

“If you need flour, please comply. You can pick some milk, soap or any other thing of your choice,” he said while declining to explain the motive behind the condition.

County Commissioner Maalim Mohammed said he had received concerns on the conditions and noted that he was coordinating with members of the county security team to apprehend retailers putting such conditions. 

 

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