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September 19, 2018

Food portions halved as fuel price shoots up

A trader dries fish skeleton for sale on a wire mesh ahead of last year’s presidential election in Kibera , Nairobi, on August 6 last year /REUTERS
A trader dries fish skeleton for sale on a wire mesh ahead of last year’s presidential election in Kibera , Nairobi, on August 6 last year /REUTERS

Residents of Kibera are finding ways to cope with the increased fuel prices, days after the 16 per cent VAT levied on petroleum products took effect.

In Makina vendors and hotel owners have reduced food portions instead of increasing prices.

“I have reduced the sizes of my chapatis so as to produce more to cater for the increased cost of production. Lazima nicheze na kijiko [I must ration],” Alice Nabwire said.

The mother of two runs a small hotel along the link road connecting Ngong and Lang'ata roads. Her customers are mostly construction workers.

“They will go to my competitors [if I raise the prices] and I will run at a loss,” Nabwire said. She said the cost of transporting ingredients from the supermarket to her hotel has increased from Sh250 to Sh400.

But John Munyoki, who runs a barber shop and video stall, accused some hotels of taking advantage of the situation to over price commodities.

“I used to pay Sh100 for chapati and meat in most hotels around, now the prices fluctuate between Sh120 and Sh150.

Vegetable vendor Boniface Kyalo, 32, used to sell four tomatoes for Sh20 but he has reduced the number to three.

“Most of my customers are slum dwellers. The people here operate on minimal incomes. If you increase the prices, no one will come to your shop,” he said.

Magdaline Awino, 46, a mother of four, uses kerosene for lighting and cooking. The price of kerosene went up to Sh117 per litre from Sh87.21.

"Unlike before, today I buy boiled beans and only fry them in the house, it is much cheaper," she said. Her children, all of whom are in primary school, now have to do their homework early in order to go to bed early to save on fuel for lighting.

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