Traders in Kisumu are suffering the brunt of a low supply of groceries and other foodstuffs arriving from market sources countrywide and beyond.
Most suppliers from central and Rift Valley regions in Kenya and others from Uganda have failed to transport goods to the main markets there, fearing the risk of violence after the outcome of the recently concluded General Election.
The prices for basic foodstuffs including tomatoes, cabbages and potatoes, mainly sourced from central and Rift Valley regions, have remained high, despite the hype by business owners for resumption of trade in the area.
A spot check by the Business Daily at the regional markets showed that supplies of potatoes, carrots, tomatoes and cabbages from central and Rift Valley regions coming into the area were very low.
Mrs Evelyn Atieno, a grocer who gets her supplies from central and Rift Valley traders told the Business Daily that no suppliers were travelling to Kisumu to distribute their products, though business deals were being made on phone.
Traders who do not have phone numbers of their suppliers have in the long run been locked out of business.
“I'm getting supplies from the region via regular buses that travel the Kisumu-Nairobi route, I make an arrangement with my suppliers to transport the goods then I pay on delivery via M-Pesa,” Atieno told the Business Daily,
“This has however pushed prices of the goods up because they are scarce and transportation costs have also gone up”.
At Kisumu markets, a piece of cabbage that cost Sh30 before the elections now goes for Sh100 owing to the high transport fares and the scarcity of the commodities.
Tomatoes are, however, nearly out of stock and traders clearing their stock were selling a kilogramme of the commodity for Sh200.
Uganda has been the key supplier of bananas to Kisumu but since the elections began on March 4, supplies have remained low despite the end of elections.
Traders in the region attribute this to the fear of travelling to Kenya when election matters have not quite been settled.
Ms Edith Achieng, a banana wholesale trader at the main municipal market in Kisumu, says there have been no supplies at all, yet normally she gets a weekly supply of a whole lorry carrying 90-kilogramme sacks of bananas.
“My supplier who is from Uganda told me that he cannot travel to Kenya to sell during this period so he is awaiting the settlement of matters to do with elections in court," Ms Achieng said.
She added that though she is selling stock that was carried forward from her previous supplies; she is afraid that soon she will run out of stock and have nothing to sell.
“I buy a bunch of bananas from Uganda at Sh1200 which I normally sell at Sh1700 but with the scarcity of the goods, the prices have gone up and I'm now selling at Sh2000 a bunch,” Ms Achieng said.
Céline Aoko, a wholesale maize and beans seller at the market also says she has not been getting supplies from Busia, her main market source but she has been bold enough to travel all the way and buy maize for sell in Kisumu.
“My suppliers have been laying low because according to them, Kisumu is an unpredictable place and the ongoing court case by the Cord Coalition might just stir violence and they do not want to be caught up with chaos while travelling. They have the notion that Kisumu is a war-torn town”, Mrs Aoko said.
Aoko said that despite having some stock of maize and beans to sell, there are no buyers at the market so she has slightly increased her prices per kilogramme so that she can do away with the stock.
“I buy a 90-kilogramme sack of maize at Sh3600, which is slightly higher than the normal Sh3200 that I could buy it with.
"That means I buy a kilo at Sh27 and sell at Sh45, slightly higher than the normal selling price of Sh35. Business is slow, people are worried of the aftermath of the court case and that is why suppliers are not upbeat about travelling to Kisumu to sell their goods”, she said.