19 February 2011

Gambia:Prices Of Basic Commodities Hike While BAC Increases Daily Duty Collection

People in Brikama and surroundings complain of the price increases of basic commodities which coincided with the recent increase of duty paid to the Brikama Area Council by vendors on a daily basis. 
Conducting interviews at the markets with concerned persons, it is discovered that apart from the price increases, the Brikama Area Council has also increased the daily duty to be paid by vendors at markets in the region.
Two ladies namely; Aminata Jabbi and Amie Jarsey, dealers in imported chicken said the market has experienced huge increases in many basic commodities making it difficult for them to meet their daily needs. The two women who sat closely together at the market said though many commodities have increased, they have not yet increased their prices which make it difficult for them to make profit after selling their product. The two women revealed that whatever they gain from their sales they spend it on family matters such as feeding and paying of school fees for their children. They also disclosed that the usual sales they make before have really gone down even though they have not yet increased their prices. They gave an example and said that each of them used to sell two cartons daily but now they find it difficult to even sell one carton in a whole day.
Sainabou Bajan, Fatou Darboe and Fatoumata Kandeh, all vendors dealing with fish informed this reporter that the hike in prices of fish depends on what price they (vendors) get from the fish mongers. They said in the previous months the container they used to buy at D150 has now increased to D400.00. The women vendors in fish said due to the hike in prices of fish, most of their customers ran away. The fish vendors argued that the recent increase on the daily duty from D3.00 to D5.00 by the Brikama Area Council could not also allow them to bring down their prices. Many vendors at the market complained that the council has taken a decision without informing them.
“We prefer to sell our fish outside the fish market as we pay less to council compared to the duty of D10.dalasi we pay to the fish market management daily”, said Fatoumata Darboe and Fatoumata Kandeh, two fish vendors at the Brikama fish market.
Mr. Abdoulie Camara said that the scarcity in fish has been the main source of the increase in prices on fish in recent days. He said due to the cold season and the heavy winds blowing everywhere the tonnage of fish that could be caught at sea has reduced. Camara further explains that they used to load up to 4 vehicles of fish daily from Tanji but now it is not possible to have two vehicle loads in a day. He said in previous months they found it difficult to get ICE block to keep the rest of the unsold fish but now he said that is not what is happening. He went on to add that even at the sea fishermen are seen coming back empty handed with their boats after spending hours fishing.
Mamadou Wury Jallow, a canteen owner expressed that the increase in prices on such basic commodities is not their fault but is based on how they purchase them from the wholesale shops. He said sometimes he finds it difficult to convince his clients or customers on the daily increase of prices. He said in the previous 6 months he used to buy a bag of onion at less than D300.00 but as at now he said a bag of onion cost him D400.00. He said imported Irish potatoes used to cost D570.00 and the local one cost D470.00.
Mr. Jallow said price of cooking oil in less than six months ago was between D6.50 per cup to D11.00. He also reveals that all categories of beans have also increased within these days.
Binta Marong dealer in ingredients also confirms the recent increase on the daily collection by council from D3.00 to D5.00. She said council did not tell them much about the reason for the increment and they were not formally informed by council. She said it is recently that they noticed in the tickets issued by council that it is increased and it is only then that the collectors started to inform them. She said for her part the vegetables she is selling has reduced in price almost by 50 percent because she said almost all gardeners are now harvesting the vegetables at the same time thus flooding the market.
Consumers also express concern on the high prices of commodities. The house wives said even salt that used to be D10.00 per cup has now increased to D30.00 and the usual D5.00 cup has increased to D17.00. Tumbulou Sanneh a salt dealer in the Brikama market confirmed the increase in the price of salt, saying that the bag they used to buy at D225.00 has now increased to almost D600.00. She said this is the main factor in the increase on price of salt.
Some husbands or family heads responsible for giving fish money also narrated that the recent increase in price of basic commodities have made life very difficult for many of them even for those who are employed. They said whosoever used to give D50.00 as daily fish money must today give nothing less than D75.00 and those of them who claim to have been giving D75.00 have increased to D100.00 daily. This, they said excludes rice and firewood not to talk about breakfast, they posited. They called for a proper solution to this daily increase on basic commodities.
Reacting to the complaints made by vendors on the recent increase by council on the daily duty collection, the senior Administration Officer and also the Public Relation Officer at the Brikama Area Council, Modou Jonga confirmed the increase. He further explained that the increase came when council recently held a meeting and finally decided to increase the price on daily collection from the usual D3.00 to D5.00. He said this affects all markets in the West Coast Region.
Asked what motivated them to increase the price, Jonga said this is all meant to improve services in all the markets in the region, such as water and sanitation.
Also answering to the queries by many vendors that they were not formally informed by council, PRO Jonga said that all market committees were sensitized on the subject matter and were asked to inform all concerned vendors. Jonga said so far he has not received any complaint from vendors on the decision taken by the council. 


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