Citizens in South Sudan’s Yei River County of Central Equatoria State are complaining of the continued rise in the cost of living in the country.
Prices of commodities continue to shoot high for both food and non-food items in markets since late February.
One of the buyers Mary Dawa says commodity prices dramatically increased and blames traders for the high prices of goods.
She adds a bar of soap was initially was sold at 300 South Sudanese pounds equivalent to $2.30 but now it has gone to 600 SSP which is equivalent to $4.61.
The consumer worries that the poor may not afford anything in the market if prices does not stabilize anytime soon unless the government or the traders regulate it.
“We used to buy goods at a low cost for example a bar of soap was sold at 300ssp or $2.30 but now it has gone to six hundred 600ssp or $4.61. I wonder what is contributing to the hiking of the prices all food and none food items have shot high. We don’t know how we can manage our families if it continues like this. We are calling on the traders/those responsible to regulate market prices to look into this issue because many vulnerable people are suffering this is now beyond our capacities,” she stresses.
Jane Monday a vender who sells vegetable in the market reiterates that prices of various commodities have increased in recent months.
She adds that as vendors it is difficult to purchase goods from remote/village market and bring it to town due to the high transportation cost.
The vender explains that there is nobody regulating the market prices and traders are free to sell their products at any price they want.
“Surely things have gone to the worst. All commodities are hiking. Both food and none food items have gone high. It is becoming difficult for us as vendors to afford buying to retail. Our roads are not good, if we want to go to the rural markets like Ombasi or Mugwo, transport is expensive our money goes all on transport. Let the government intervene because in the market, every trader has his or her own price, “Jane regrets.
A retailer Joseph Wani expresses disappointment that the increase in commodity prices has reduced the customers purchasing powers.
The retailer is appealing to the chamber of commerce and revenue authority to look into the issue especially the taxation policy.
“Customers are all complaining. Most of them just asks the prices and go away because it is expensive, and they can’t afford it. They wanted us to reduce the prices of commodities but how can we reduce when we bought it expensively. We don’t know why the wholesalers are selling to us at high rate. If the wholesalers reduce their prices, the retailers will also reduce to shoot the interest of the common citizens. My message is that let the government assess the reason of the increase of prices of goods. If it is because of high taxation, let them reduce over taxation so that the price normalizes,” Joseph adds.
On the other hand, fuel prices in the country have also gone very high in the recent days.
A commercial motorbike rider commonly known as boda-boda complained of the continued increase in fuel prices in the county.
Last week in Yei, the county government ordered the fuel station owners to sell a litre of fuel at 750 SSP equivalent to $5.76 adding that any person found defying the order will be punished.
The fuel station owners immediately shutdown their fuel stations as a protest because of the order by the county authority.
Currently in Yei a litre of fuel goes for 850 SSP (S6.53) at all fuel stations in the county
In response to high market prices, the County Chamber of Commerce chairman Luate Justin admits that price have increase in the markets.
He attributes the increase to high fuel prices hence affecting transportation which results to the current unstable prices in the market.
“For sure price of items in the market has gone high. One of the reason is the increase in fuel price which has made transport to be high and secondly if you can remember last week there has been an increase in the dollar that has never been stable. The only possibility is that maybe we can talk to the traders however the reason of the increment is very clear. Transport has gone very high everywhere even Uganda where the supplies come from, prices have gone high because of the fuel increaement and even here in the ground, the government taxes rate has also gone high both the national state and county revenue. Therefore, you cannot force a trader to sell at a price that brings loses. Prices are always determined by the expenses,” Justin explained.
The current high cost of living is not affecting South Sudanese nationals alone.
According to the BBC the World Bank has slashed its annual forecast for global economic growth, warning that some countries are facing a major recession because of Russia’s war in Ukraine and coronavirus.
The bank said eastern Africa and some parts of Europe were particularly affected.
It said there was a real risk that stagflation – a combination of high inflation and low growth – could return for the first time since the 1970s, spurred by increases in food and fuel prices, the BBC reported