Before the elections it had become clear that the rumours of clashes and fighting during the pre campaign period had served to create fear within the local business community.
The reaction obviously was that local importers curtailed their imports fearing that if there was any unrest they would be the ultimate losers.
Indeed Indian businessman Lakish who manns Merani stores at Krootown road, which is one of the leading importers of foodstuffs agreed that the present hike in prices of various commodities should be blamed on the elections.
He said that generally because of the uncertainty of the elections, and the fear of violence, they did not import anything even before the August 11 elections.
“If there is violence in the elections our shops would always be the targets, so shrewd business people will not want to bring things into the country but to wait and see how everything goes”
He said the prices are soaring because the country is facing scarcity and the obvious dynamics of demand and supply in the economy is outplaying where many people are demanding very few goods.
Consequently the prices of various foodstuffs have skyrocketed. A bag of imported rice which sold for 57 thousand Leones before the elections is now selling for 80 thousand Leones. A bag of onions which sold for 75 thousand leones is now selling for 130 thousand Leones and it is even very scare as of Saturday.
Other Basic food commodities like Pepper which is not imported has jumped from Le250 a cup to Le700, salt from Le500 to Le1,000. The big cup of powdered milk (imported) which was Le54, 000 is now selling for a whooping Le72, 000.
Salamatu Sesay who runs a little provision shop along Sani Abacha Street agreed with Indian businessman Lakish, but described the price increases as “sheer wickedness by business People.”
In her view “some business people are just poised to take advantage of these kinds of situations to make huge profits”
Sounding a patriotic tune she said “We are all Sierra Leoneans and we should not heap hardship on ourselves, … the election has not been violent so people should continue to live normal lives and sell at the normal prizes”
Alhaji Unisa Alim Sesay a foreign exchange dealer and the indigenous business representative in the Chamber of Commerce said that they have observed the present predicament the country is facing as a result of the climbing prices of almost everything.
He confirmed that there has been no importation since election.
Sierra Leone he said cannot afford to wait for over six weeks for election which brought everything to a standstill and nothing happens to our economy” Mr Sesay said irritably.
“We just have to wait until this election is over and the quicker the better for all of us” he pointed out.
The indigenous business representative revealed that even though prizes have soared up because of the election, it would have been like that even if there had not been elections.
This he said is because there was a pending increment in petroleum products, but government and the Chambers of Commerce prevailed on the oil merchants to wait until after the election to save any social unrest, he revealed.
Civil Servant Amadu Sandy who was seen grumbling along Sani Abacha street complained that the economic situation in the country is deteriorating. Revealing that even his office is at a standstill, Mr Sandy said “nothing is moving, how can we get money to cope with this economic mess”