Maize Flour Prices Yet To Drop Again After Uhuru's Directive

Out of the four supermarkets sampled, only two were selling the most staple food in the whole country at the new price

Maize Flour Prices Yet To Drop Again After Uhuru's Directive
Inside a supermarket along Thika Road. /MARVIN CHEGE.VIRALTEAKE

Kenyans will still have to wait a bit longer to enjoy the new maize flour prices of Ksh100 per 2kg packet, a day after President Uhuru Kenyatta's directive which lowered the price from Ksh205.

Viral Tea paid a visit to four supermarkets within the Thika Road area, including two at Garden City Mall, to ascertain whether or not the directive was actually enforced.

Out of the four supermarkets sampled, only two were selling the most staple food in the whole country at the new price, with one of them setting a limit of one 2kg packet per person in a bid to avert panic buying with 18 days to the August 9 general elections.

Maize flour being sold at a supermarket. /MARVIN CHEGE.VIRALTEAKE

However, that is merely for one brand. The rest still held on to the maximum prices, some charging Ksh193 and others Ksh230, Ksh231 and Ksh257.

During the visit, Viral Tea learnt that stock had run out among one of the popular maize flour brands, which could probably explain the reason behind the implementation of its directive to avoid the unga crisis in the supermarket.

However, the story was much different in another supermarket nearby where the prices of unga across all brands sold were unchanged. The same case went for another in Garden City, a premise once termed as the largest in the country by space before Two Rivers overtook it.

There was hope in another supermarket we visited in the mall as one of the brands heeded the President's directive.

But there was still the mad rush to purchase the product as we were unlucky to run into a section of Kenyans who had scooped up what was visibly the final remaining stocks of maize flour for the day. To be specific, by the time of conducting independent spot checks, that maize flour brand was going for Ksh98.

Retailers who spoke to Viral Tea revealed that the presidential directive could not have taken effect immediately as some of them had purchased stock with the old price, which is still in the shops by the time of publication.

"I bought unga at 210. They've not dropped yet, I think they will start from tomorrow," a Nairobi resident told Viral Tea.

An interesting observation in one of the supermarkets was an attendant standing guard, directing customers on the limit on the number of packets to load on their shopping carts for purchase. This is in a bid to avoid chaos in the supermarkets where customers barge through each other to get that precious packet...that is when the directive really comes into order.

Kenyans had also raised concerns that the panic buying could lead to a shortage of maize flour, igniting another, much worse crisis, but millers have since assured that there is enough maize flour to feed the whole country.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during a past address. /PSCU

The President also announced the immediate suspension of the Import Declaration Fee (IDF) imposed on imported maize as well as the fuel development levy on transporting the product, which triggered the decrease in prices. He also asked the millers not to hoard maize flour as it would lead to serious consequences.

"And I say so because if one of them acts unethically by hoarding their products, the other benefits by politicizing this irresponsibility.  But in the meantime, who suffers from this mischief?  If the politician gets his votes out of it and the miller gets their profit, what does the common mwananchi (Citizen) get?  And in the end, who carries the burden of this mischief? The common mwananchi, of course!

"If my appeal to the millers is to practice a reasoned level of social ethics, my appeal to the political class is to exercise civic responsibility. To politicize the pain of the vulnerable without offering solutions is to mock the lifestyle of the same voters the politicians are appealing to," he said in a televised address at State House, Nairobi on Wednesday, July 20.