An acute shortage of sugar has hit Mombasa and its environs after dealers resulted in hiding the commodity in fear that it could be impounded by the government in the ongoing crackdown on contrabands.
Though the crackdown appears to have slowed down, sugar dealers have refused to open their stores.
The crackdown has disrupted supply of the commodity into the market and many retail and wholesale shops do not have reliable suppliers.
Interior Cabinet secretary Fred Matiang’i claimed that sugar in the market was contaminated with mercury.
Only a few retail shops and supermarkets are selling the precious commodity at a hiked price.
Residents have expressed concern over the shortage and sudden rise in prices and blamed the crackdown on contaminated sugar.
“There is no sugar in shops and those that have it are selling it at unimaginable prices,” said Halima Ahmed Omar who runs a small food outlet at Kongowea area.
Ahmed said that the price of the commodity have risen by more than a 100 per cent.
“Less than a month ago we were buying a kilogramme of sugar at Sh100 or less but now they are selling it at between Sh180 and Sh220 depending on the wholesale price.
Every retailer has their own price depending on how much they bought it from wholesaler,” said Ahmed.
Retailers said sugar traders have put their stores under lock and key in fear that they could be raided by a multi-agency team undertaking crackdown on contraband goods.
Food cafés and hotel owners have also expressed concerns over the shortage saying that they are forced to hike prices of tea beverages and snacks containing sugar like “mahamri and Kaimati tamu”.
“I have increased tea beverage price for my customers by Sh10 because I am buying sugar at a higher price,” said Ahmed.