NOT SWEET NEWS

Sugar shortage spreading across major towns

Price of sugar up 30 percent and shortage grows

In Summary

•Most sugar millers in Western Kenya have closed down for failing to pay farmers or renovations

•Traders have imported the sugar from Brazil which is awaiting clearance at the Mombasa port

Workers offload part of the 500 bags of sugar that has been stolen by highway robbers along the Naivasha-Mai Mahiu road. Police recovered the sugar that was destined for the port of Mombasa from Uganda in Kinale area following a tip-off from members of the public.
Sugar Workers offload part of the 500 bags of sugar that has been stolen by highway robbers along the Naivasha-Mai Mahiu road. Police recovered the sugar that was destined for the port of Mombasa from Uganda in Kinale area following a tip-off from members of the public.
Image: George Murage

The price of sugar in some towns in the country has shot up by more than 30 percent in the last two weeks due to an acute shortage.

Traders have accused suppliers of hoarding the sugar creating an artificial shortage while the suppliers are blaming state agencies of blocking the product at the Port of Mombasa.

As a result, a kilogram of sugar is retailing at Sh170 in some towns up from Sh130 at the end of last month as the shortage bites.

Due to the shortage, some traders are illegally bringing in sugar from the neighbouring countries into the local market to meet the rising demand.

Two weeks ago, police in Naivasha confiscated close to 600 bags of contraband sugar from Uganda.

Several factories in the Western Kenya sugar belt have closed down due to failure to pay farmers or mechanical breakdowns forcing the country to wholly rely on imports.

According to a Narok trader Dan Kinyua, the shortage is getting worse forcing them to hike prices.

“The suppliers claim that there is no sugar at the port while others accuse sugar barons of hoarding the product leading to the current crisis,” he said on Monday.

Ann Waki a trader in Gilgil town said that a kilogram of sugar is retailing at Sh155 up from Sh120 a fortnight.

“The supermarkets have put a limit of four kilos per person as the shortage gets worse by the day and we are yet to understand what the problem is,” she said.

An importer who declined to be named said that tens of ships loaded with sugar were waiting to be offloaded at the Port of Mombasa.

He blamed the slow pace of inspection and new rules introduced by Kenya Revenue Authority and Kenya Bureau of Standards for the current shortage which was getting worse by the day.

“We are getting different information from KRA and KEBs on when the sugar will be offloaded and all we can do is wait as the prices continue to rise,” he said.

The trader added that due to the crisis, cheap sugar from neighbouring countries was being diverted into the local market as consumers sought alternatives.