Unga uproar in counties as shortage continues to bite


Low-cost maize flour is not available in shops across the six counties of Nyanza.

Residents, who said they have not found the 2kg packet of flour that is supposed to retail at Sh90, have accused the Government of bias in the distribution of the commodity.

Shoppers interviewed by The Standard complained that the price of dry maize has risen to Sh160 per 2kg tin and that most of them cannot afford it.

Spot checks in Kisii, Nyamira, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisumu, and Siaya found that many shoppers complained that they had not found the cheap unga in supermarkets and small shops.

HIGH COST

On Saturday, President Uhuru Kenyatta claimed that some traders were  hoarding the unga that was intended to help address the high cost of food in the country.

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Uhuru warned those hoarding the commodity of dire consequences.

But in Homa Bay, some of the shopkeepers asked the Government to withdraw the cheap maize flour and allow traders to sell the commodity as before to address the shortage.

“Traders are hoarding maize flour because they are not making any profit when they sell it at Sh90. It is better to buy it at Sh140 and have it available,” said Martin Kiche, a taxi driver.

It was the same story in Kisii Counry.

Leading retail shops in Kisii town have not had flour for the past two days, with a few shops in the outskirts of the town selling the now precious commodity at Sh150.

On Friday, one of the retail shops was forcing customers to buy goods worth Sh200 before they were allowed to buy a packet of unga. The subsidised flour was released to supermarkets but several outlets have been limiting customers to just one or two packets each.

Most hotels have resorted to using flour that is milled in the town.

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Steve Mogoka of Prudent Hotel said he had not found any flour in the shops.

“We have reduced the size of the ugali we serve in our hotel because of the cost of maize in the market,” said Mr Mogaka.

In Kisumu, the few supermarkets that still had stocks forced shoppers to buy other goods before allowing them to buy maize flour.

“We offloaded a truck full of government flour but we have not seen it getting out of the store. We suspect that our boss is selling it through some cartels,” said a source.

In Nyeri, many supermarket shelves are still empty as the shortage continues bite.

Most retail outlets, especially supermarkets, have run out stocks.

‘’When we get new supplies we place them on the shelves, but within no time the shelves are empty,” said Patrick Kamau, a supervisor.

 

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