The increase in fuel pump price is pushing up the cost of living, forcing some people to go without food and some even into ‘abu blacking.’-(walking).
Fuel price rose by Le5, 000 overnight when the government changed from the imperial system of measurement to that of the metric system on May 1.
Since then, commercial transport cost has gone up forcing an increase in the prices of foodstuffs and other essential items.
Memunatu Mansaray, who sells fruits to support her five children, said life is very difficult as things are getting more expensive every day.
“I used to buy a bag of rice for Le 100,000 and this will take us to more than a month but now I can’t afford it because the cost of a bag of rice has increased drastically to Le140,000, which is the cheapest bag” she said.
She said she can’t afford to buy a bag of rice anymore, so she spends about Le25, 000 per day to make sauce and 11 cups of rice, which she buys at Le 1,200 per cup, totaling Le13, 200.
“So you see how life is difficult because I don’t have any husband and I depend on the fruits I sell to feed my children and take care of their schooling,” Mansaray said. “Pretty soon I believe, women of this country will do what the women in Uganda did when they demonstrated against the high cost of feeding.”
A father of three who prefers anonymity, said prices have shot up almost 100 per cent for items like mango and rice. Traders blame the increase on pump prices and transport fares for the rapidly rising food costs.
The man said when these increments are made, the government does not raise salaries so people have to spend more than they earn.
“This is the reason why public officials are engaged in corrupt practices because they have bills to pay and other family commitments and the money is not there,” he said, adding “because of the high cost of living, all pointing to the increment in the fuel price, my family sometimes go without proper feeding because I don’t have options and the money is not there.”
Mamusu Tamba, another fruit seller at Kroo Town Road Market, said there has been a drastic increase in prices in the past months, which she attributed to the increase in fuel price.
She explained that they buy pineapples from wholesalers who pay transport to bring them down from farms in eastern Sierra Leone.
Tamba said a few months ago, they used to buy pineapples for Le20, 000 per dozen but now a dozen costs Le60, 000. She said sales have dropped and sometimes the buyers do grumble that they are too expensive.
“Even this morning a buyer quarreled with me, saying that the mango is too expensive, but it is not our fault because the way we used to buy it in the past is not the same today,” she said.
“All we hope for is that things get better and prices go back to where they were, because as it is now, our customers are running away from us and this market is what my family and I depend on.”
Mrs. Fatmata Renner, a petty trader who sells rice per cup and other commodities, confirmed that indeed the price of rice has increased as compared to how it was before. The trader said the price of a bag of rice has gone up by Le23, 000 since May 1.
She said that even before the fuel increase, the price was increasing but it was just by Le1, 000 or Le 2,000 at a time. When the price of fuel increased then the price of rice shot up. Renner explained she is even afraid that by next week there will be another increase since government is not putting any measure in place to stop the price hikes.