Traders in Kilifi are at crossroads over the worsening cost of living that has deprived them customers and as a result Counting huge losses.

This follows the recent sharp increase in fuel, oil prices in the country that has since fueled up the prices of commodities forcing traders to brace for the worst ever hard times in the economy ahead of Easter Holidays.

A spot check by the media in Business enterprises within Kilifi Town has revealed that everyone, especially the low income earners and business persons have been pushed to the wall by the deteriorating economy with some closing down business hoping for prices to be stabilized.

Raising concerns to the media, Operations manager at Milano Backyard and Grill in Kilifi town, Amina Godana said they are experiencing low sales due to the risen prices in commodities because the restaurant has not increased the prices of foods and drinks.

Milano Backyard and Grill Operations, Manager Amina Godana talking to the media inside the restaurant in Kilifi Town Photo by Treeza Auma

She said they risk losing more customers if they hike the prices of items and as a result they have opted for the losses in a bid to maintain customers until the commodities’ prices stabilize.

Amina said that it is difficult to pay the employees as the restaurant counts losses revealing that sometimes the management is forced to source money from their pockets to pay employees in order to maintain them.

“We are selling chips at 200 shillings which was not the case before the prices hiked and this has cost us a great deal in paying our employees considering that jobs have become scarce out there. We have to pay them as before to retain them. Now that the sales are increasingly becoming low, we are sometimes forced to dig into our pockets to pay our employees,” Amina said.

One of the owners of Two Sisters Restaurant in Kilifi town, Lilian Awuor expressed her sorrows to the media over the upbeat by the cost of living that has hit their business hard.

“Our customers have left for cheaper items at other hotels causing us to throw away the unbought items that go stale, therefore counting huge losses on a daily basis, “Awour said.

She revealed that employees have opted to quit the job because their wage is quite little and unable to sustain them any longer.

“Some of the employees have quit their jobs here because of the little wages they receive which cannot sustain them with the current increasing cost of living ,” she remarked.

Referring to a common foodstuff chapati, Awour highlighted that the restaurant has been compelled to reduce the size of the flour balls in order to counter the losses at the expense of the food quality therefore losing many customers.

Lilian Awuor, One of the owners of Two Sisters restaurant in Kilifi, talking to the media inside her restaurant Photo By Treeza Auma

“The rise in the price of cooking cooking oil has forced us to reduce the size of the doughs in making chapati to achieve a little profit which reduces its quality and the aftermath is stressful since less or no customers are left to buy them ,” she said.

Patrick Hinzano a bodaboda rider in Kilifi pointed out distress of the motorists who spend more money on fueling their locomotives more than earning profit.

“I spend more money to fuel my motorcycle which incur more losses than profit considering that customers demand to pay the initial amount they used to pay before the prices accelerated,” he said.

However, he mentioned that his colleagues and himself have tried to resolve to merry-go-round savings but nevertheless the money cannot satisfy their needs appropriately.

“We have a Merry –Go-Round group where we raise funds to keep us going putting in mind that we need to pay for our motorcycles which could be in debt or hire,” Hinzano said.

Jackson Kazungu , a boda boda operator in Kilifi said  that he has greatly been affected by the risen prices of crude oil considering that the motorbike is not his and has to pay his boss Ksh 300 ever evening.

He said some customers have opted to walk to their destinations because they can’t pay more money than they did initially before the hike.

He mentioned that he opts to incur losses by charging Ksh 50 per ride despite the distance just to get the little money even after spending Ksh 200 for fuel.

“Sometimes I offend my boss because am not able to pay him back the money every evening as agreed. This is because all the money ends up in fuel and the remaining little is never enough to feed my family,”Kazungu stated.

“Some passengers opt to walk than boarding a bodaboda for them to save the money to purchase food hence denying the riders their daily bread,” he added

The traders have called upon the government to look into the issue and consider the welfare of the common citizen with largest percentage being low income earners.

 “We are asking president Uhuru Kenyatta to lower the prices of the items as soon as possible for us to return to our normal earning trends because the current state of economy is demoralizing and alarming especially to low income earners,” Amina said.

“Please, please, we are pleading with the government to consider us before hiking the prices of commodities. We traders are suffering the most,” Awuor said.

Citizens are hopeful that the prices will reduce and their lives return to normal.

“We hope this will end soon after the economic sector is reformed on how we shall get over this,” Amina added.

By Treeza Auma

Treeza Auma is a Digital Content Producer and founder of KTMN She is also Television journalist at Kenya News Agency and Leadership Accelerator at Women in News.

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