Why many traders in North Rift have shunned subsidised maize flour

Many traders in the North Rift are reluctant to stock the government subsidised maize flour at Sh90 per two-kilogramme packet due to low returns.

The worst hit are traders are those in far-flung areas of the region who have to incur huge expenses ferrying the maize flour from other towns.

Some of the traders in insecurity prone parts of West Pokot, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet regions have defied the government warning and are instead selling the commodity above the Sh90 to recover transport costs.

In Tiaty Sub-County for instance, many traders are yet to acquire the subsidised flour due to the high costs of transportation coupled with rampant cases of insecurity in the region.

Paul Lotudo, a trader at Chemolingot Shopping Centre, hailed the government’s initiative to introduce the subsidised maize meal but added that traders who are in business should also be considered.

“The initiative is a noble one. However, many traders risk being out of business as they will not get anything in return to sustain their businesses.

“The government should consider selling the flour to traders at a relatively lower price for traders to remain afloat,” Mr Lotudo.

READ: Posho mill flour now more costly than packed unga – VIDEO

‘No economic sense’

“It makes no economic sense to sell the maize flour at Sh90,”added Mr Lotudo.

He said they were incurring a lot of costs transporting their shop stocks from Nakuru, over 167 kilometres away.

It also emerged that many wholesalers are shunning the banditry prone region due to rampant cases of insecurity that has left many people dead.

In Kapenguria in West Pokot County, traders have maintained the initial prices of maize flour which stands at Sh160 instead of Sh90 for a two-kilogramme packet.

READ: Trader who sold subsidised flour above Sh90 jailed

In far flung areas in the county, the maize flour is not available due to poor infrastructure that makes transport costs prohibitive.

“Traders fear incurring huge losses because of the high transportation costs. Kapenguria to Alale is more than 80 kilometres away, which can take roughly two days on the road to get here,” said Josiah Petaa, a resident from Kiwawa village, Alale area in North Pokot Sub-County.

Consumers who have been thronging retail shops in Makutano Township and Kapenguria said they were frustrated by the prices and some have opted to buy alternative maize flour from local posho mills.

“A two-kilogramme packet of maize flour goes for Sh120 in this town. No one has been arrested despite us raising the alarm.

“I am totally disappointed about the prices. How can you buy at Sh160 yet it is labelled Sh90,” said a local resident, Joel Wamacho.

READ: Schools alter meal plans over high cost of unga

Well-stocked

The situation is however different in Uasin Gishu County where most outlets are well stocked with the subsidised maize flour.

READ: Traders make huge profits on subsidised maize flour

A spot check by the Business Daily in Eldoret Wednesday revealed that Tuskys and Naivas supermarkets had enough maize flour in the shelves while Nakumatt had no stock of the subsidised flour.

Tuskys Supermarket had Jogoo, Dola and Pembe brands readily available for their customers at their shelves while Naivas supermarket had only Dola brand.

“We are waiting for new stock of other maize flour brands today. Still the product on the shelves is enough for all our customers,” said an attendant at the supermarket.

Shoppers who spoke to the Business Daily were pleased at the availability of the staple food.

“We have been facing a rough time due to the availability of the unga. About two weeks ago there was a limit of customers purchasing only two packets of the flour, but now there is no limit and the product is everywhere,” said Boniface Ekesa a resident in Eldoret.

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