Price hike devastates families in Sierra Leone
Prices of basic food items like rice and palm oil sky rocket on a daily basis across the country. Some heads of families are finding it difficult to afford a basic meal for their family on a daily basis. This is as a result of the high cost of food items in Sierra Leone.
According to Fudia Kamara, a housewife, the price of a cup of locally produced ‘Walla’ rice which is highly consumed by many is sold at Le 900 per cup, a pint of palm oil is Le4,000 and quality fish eaten by many is hard to find except for the Herine and Bongah which are in large circulation but are still not affordable for the common Sierra Leonean, particularly in the interior.
Many women interviewed told this medium that before the inflation, a cup of rice was sold for Le 700 and a pint of palm oil was Le1,500 and it is just possible that the prices will keep going up again.
The smuggling by unscrupulous business people of the country’s locally produced rice and palm oil to Guinea is the major reason for the price hike in the country. Gbalamuya, Yomkela, Kabaya among others are the major border crossing points to Guinea where the smugglers including Guinean military men do pass on a weekly basis with their trailer vehicles, Peugeots and mini buses loaded with rice, palm oil and petrol and sad to note that all these points are manned by both the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces and the Sierra Leone Police. At Gbalamuya, military men do sometimes make arrest after the smugglers have booked and passed through all the police checkpoints along the Freetown/Conakry highway. The action by the military men has been creating conflict between them and the police at Gbalamuya on the pretext that the military men are undermining the work of the police. As they put it they are not expecting the military men to arrest a vehicle after going through their ostensible corrupt police protocols.
This has dampened the spirit of the military men to an extent they are no longer arresting smugglers of the country’s precious food commodities so that they could maintain their relationship with the police in the area.
As a result of that, smugglers are now enjoying a field-day which has caused some people to go to bed without their staple food. Sergeant Barrie a newly transferred military intelligence personnel spoke on the issue when he stated that he is working on systems together with his men to clamp down on smuggling which according to him has been wrecking havoc on the ordinary Sierra Leonean and further borrowed from the words of the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma “No business as usual”.
Investigation shows that the smuggling of the country’s precious locally produced rice and palm oil is being championed by a Sierra Leonean commonly called Wurie who apparently is a friend of the Kambia police. Even though he is well known for dubious activities in the district, he has never been arrested and charged to court for committing a crime against the state.
A group called Activist, a Hunger Free campaign civil right group in Kambia district says the rapid inflation in the price of food commodities is currently affecting the people of Sierra Leone and is as a result of the high spate of smuggling of the country’s locally produced food items to Guinea. The Hunger Free campaigners maintained that human security cannot only be limited to guns and machetes but also food adding, food must be available and affordable for all.
By Abdul R. Bedor Kamara
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