11 October 2018

Kenya: Nairobi County Raids Supermarkets in Crackdown On Unga Prices

The Nairobi County government has begun a crackdown on supermarkets and retailers selling a two-kilogramme packet of maize flour (unga) above Sh75.

The operation, which was conducted in supermarkets in the central business district, comes after Agriculture secretary Mwangi Kiunjuri last month directed millers and traders to sell it at Sh75 or less.

Enforcement officers from the county's trade department, led by City Hall Licensing Officer Michael Akoko, raided various supermarkets including Tuskys and Naivas along Kenyatta Avenue and Eastmatt on Tom Mboya Street.

OPERATION

"We were carrying out maize flour price compliance operation as part of our routine licensing inspections. We have gone to various supermarkets and most of the have complied with the government advice. It is only Eastmatt Supermarket which has not fully complied but the rest we have gone to have complied," said Mr Akoko on Thursday.

During the operation, Eastmatt Supermarket was found selling the 2kg flour packet of Jogoo Grade 1 sifted maize meal at Sh85 and Jimbi at Sh82.

Eastmatt manager Moses Mwangi, however, defended the prices.

He said the millers were yet to lower their prices, leaving the supermarket management with no option.

"Those who sell the maize flour to us have not reduced their prices to comply with the directive by the government and so it is really putting us at a tight spot adjusting our prices," said Mr Mwangi.

Other supermarkets were nonetheless compliant, with the same size packets going at the set prices.

At Tuskys Kenyatta Avenue, the Jogoo brand cost Sh75, the same price as Soko, while Kifaru was retailing at Sh71.

Mr Akoko said that the operation will continue until all supermarkets and other retail outlets in the capital are covered and compliance achieved.

He added that the team will prepare a comprehensive report, which will then be forwarded to the trade department for further action.

"It will continue for days as it is supposed to be carried all over the county," he said.

The directive by Mr Kiunjuri was necessitated by the drop in the price of maize.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also warned unscrupulous traders who have not conformed to the government directive that action would be taken against them for exploiting Kenyans.

AFFORDABLE FOOD

"Prices of flour must go down in line with the decrease in the price of maize as we strive to provide sufficient and affordable food to our people. Action will be taken against traders exploiting the common mwananchi. They can do that anywhere else but not in Kenya," said President Kenyatta during a recent cleanup in Nairobi.

Even with no law or regulations to back the directive, Mr Kiunjuri said, the government has to protect its people against collusion between players in the value chain who have different prices for the same packet of maize flour in different towns and cities.

He said some supermarkets in Nakuru County, for instance, were selling unga at Sh70, Nanyuki at Sh100 and Nairobi at between Sh82 and Sh94.

Last year, a two-kilo packet of unga was capped at Sh90 in a subsidy programme that saw the government supply maize to millers at Sh2,300 for a 90-kg bag.

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