Sierra Leone Citizens cry over high cost of living
There is a public hue and cry over the high cost of living characterized by ever increasing prices in basic commodities and other essential goods.
A bag of parboil rice now costs over Le 300,000.00 while a gallon of vegetable oil is close to Le100,000.00. The prices of building materials are also skyrocketing by the day. Making a bad situation worse, the Government recent increase in the price of petroleum products has been accompanied by an unprecedented hike in the prices of locally produced items such as greens and vegetables due to an unofficial manipulation of transport fares by public transport operators, and the Government seems to keep a blind eye.
Mr. Amadu Barrie, a businessman in Freetown, remarked that business has become difficult if not impossible to do nowadays due to heavy Government taxation and the scarcity of foreign exchange. He also pointed to the prolonged closure of the border with neighboring Guinea, which used to absorb market shocks in the country. “I find it frustrating to do business and I am anticipating closing my shops in Kono, Bo and Kenema due to heavy loses I incur in running them” he said, adding that the high cost of rent is also killing the business sector.
Mrs Veronica Kallon, a housewife, lamented that putting food on the table has become a nightmare that is giving many Sierra Leoneans hypertension. “A bag of parboil rice costs over Le300,000.00, while a gallon of vegetable oil is nearly Le100,000.00 and a pint of palm oil is Le 4000”, she complained, adding that fish and meat have also become delicacy food items that majority of Sierra Leoneans cannot afford.
A major factor contributing to the rising high cost of living is the frequent restrictions in the movement of people and goods around the country in the name of fighting CORONA Virus. “I wonder what will become of the hardship level if Ebola struck again!”, exclaimed a community resident.
Salamatu Sesay, a trader who sells basic food stuffs at Lumley, explains to Sierra Express that market prices are determined by the cost price and the cost of transportation for their goods; and also the need to make profit in order to put food on their table; hence the rise in the prices food stuffs.
Due to the inflation and the free market economy it is highly probable that prices will keep going up albeit at the expense of the common man.
The Sierra Leone Drivers Union President, Alpha Bah, said the union is aware of the dire state of affairs and assured that his union would work with government, the police and traffic wardens to ensure that drivers comply with approved transport fares and do not demand more from passengers.
“We will instruct all drivers union offices to publicly display the price tag for public transportation”, Mr Bah disclosed on phone. He explained that due to COVID19 pandemic the number of passengers has been reduced, causing drivers to incur loss, which he described as their contribution, in recognition of the fact that these are abnormal times and that COVID 19 has affected the whole world, not just drivers.
By Emmanuel M Kamara & Evalyn H.H. Cole
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