Kongowea food traders count losses

Cabbage traders at Kongowea market. photo | Laban Walloga
Cabbage traders at Kongowea market. photo | Laban Walloga 

Food vendors at Kongowea market are counting losses as customers, who stocked large quantities due to uncertainty over the August 8 General Election, stay away.

Businessmen, farmers and transporters are incurring heavy losses as vegetables and other foods go to waste. Traders blame residents of overstocking ahead of the polls.

However, residents accuse traders of hoarding. “They were hoarding the food with the intention of overcharging during and after the polls,” said Jecinta Mutheu.

Transporters also complain of being stuck with produce outside Kongowea market due to lack buyers.

Irish potato seller Edith Wambui said she disposed of 10 sacks which were going bad. “My stock is still piled up in the lorry outside the market because there are no customers.

‘‘I cannot offload because I have nowhere to store them,” the trader from Molo in the Rift Valley said.

Cabbage farmer and trader Justice Mogaka said he incurred Sh100,000 losses when his produce decomposed.

“I have spent two weeks at this market, sleeping in guest houses while my cabbages rot because there are no customers.

‘‘We want things to normalise so that we can go on with our businesses,” he said. Mr Mogaka said that he had been forced to sell large cabbages at Sh5 each up from Sh200.

“Two days before elections we were selling one large cabbage at Sh200 but now we are either giving them away or selling them at a throw away prices,” he said.

A spot check at the retail market before the polls revealed that prices of all foods had tripled.

A kilogramme of tomatoes was sold at Sh200, up from Sh80, and onions Sh150, up from Sh50.

County Communication Director Richard Chacha attributed the high food prices to poll jitters.

“Residents are rushing to stock up because they are not sure what will happen after elections” said Mr Chacha then.