Garissa Governor Nathif Jamah has issued a stern warning to rogue traders taking advantage of the current floods to hoard essential commodities that their licenses will be revoked.
Nathif said that his office had received several complaints from area residents that some traders are holding back essential commodities to create an artificial shortage to inflate their prices and make a ‘kill’ because the major supply routes to the region have been closed.
In the past three days, the Kenya National Highway Authority (KeNHA) has temporarily closed the Garissa-Nairobi highway and the Garissa-Mombasa road after several sections of the roads were swept away by the raging floods occasioned by El Nino rains pounding several parts of the country.
The two major roads are not only the entry points to Garissa town and the rest of the North Eastern region but also supply all the commodities from Nairobi, Mombasa, and grocery supplies from central Kenya.
Addressing the press at a Garissa hotel, Nathif said that among the commodities the traders are hoarding include sugar, maize flour, milk, and cooking oil among other essential items.
The governor said that hoarding of essential commodities is criminal and will be severely punished.
Nathif called on religious leaders in Garissa town to speak out on the practice that he not only termed as ‘immoral’ but also against Islamic and other religious teachings.
His sentiments were echoed by acting County Commissioner Solomon Chesut, who directed the DCI detectives to investigate those involved with a view to prosecuting them.
The prices of commodities in Garissa town and the neighbouring towns of Madogo and Mororo in Tana River County have shot up in the last two days following the closure of the two main supply routes.
A spot check by KNA revealed that the prices of essential commodities have doubled or even tripled, with a kilo of sugar now retailing at sh500 up from sh200, 2 kg of maize flour at sh600 from sh240, a carton of milk at sh1,000 from sh450.
The prices will even skyrocket if the Garissa-Nairobi highway is not opened up to allow the commodities to come in.
Meanwhile, hundreds of public servants who reside in Madogo, Tana River County, and work in Garissa town and its environs today did not report for duty after KeNHA closed the Madogo-Garissa road after it was swept away by flash floods yesterday.
By Jacob Songok