Rumbek residents decry skyrocketing commodity prices

By Yang Ater Yang

Residents of Rumbek town in Lakes state have decried skyrocketing prices of commodities in the market, amid worsening hyperinflation as the local currency dropped to record low against the US dollars in the foreign exchange market.

South Sudan free market economy which is dependent on imports is always hit hard by hard currency as the exchange rate keeps fluctuating, hiking prices of imported goods.

Sudan war, entering a second month, adds its impact on South Sudan which has already started feeling the pinch of the crisis to her oil-dependent economy as the local pounds now sales between SSP 999 to 1,000 per a dollar in the parallel market, a situation that has drastically hiked commodity prices countrywide, Rumbek not exceptional.

Lakes State capital town, Rumbek, is situated in the center of the country, without any international neighbour, while goods and services mostly come from Uganda and Kenya, through the national capital city, Juba.

Gisma Mangar Bol, a resident of Rumbek town told No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, that there is too much increase in prices of goods and services in the market.

“I have come to buy some of the items today in the market, but I got a very big difference in prices between previous and current prices of food items,” she said.

“If you want to buy sugar, for example, you will get a big different from the previous and current price and when you ask a trader to explain the reason why the prices get increasing every day in the market, they tell you that there is an increase rate of US Dollars and we don’t know whether the cause of dollar rate from the government or traders,” she explained.

But she said, the local citizen is ignorant of the “dollarized” market being blamed for hike in prices.

“Now, the price of 50 kg of maize flour is 42,000 SSP, 50 kg of sugar is 57,000 SSP,” she cited.

According to Gisma, last month, 50 kg of maize flour was 35,000 SSP and 50 kg of Sugar was 48,000 SSP, before the increase in the market.

Mr. Mathew Mawou Marial, another resident said that prices in every shop keep changing every time in Rumbek with some shooting up drastically.

“Now, I got 50 kg of maize flour being sold at 45,000 SSP while last few days back, it was 35,000 SSP now, the traders have added 10,000 SSP to the previous price because of dollar increase rate,” he lamented.

The current market forces might only favor the dollar-salaried employees of organizations and companies, but Marial said “Only few people are the one receiving dollars.

“Now, we are suffering, everything has gone up in the market,” he stressed.

Mr. Marial has appealed to the government to intervene in the dollarized market and rescue the poor citizens suffering from the economic decay.

“Now, we need the government to see the issue of dollar” he said adding in few months to come, there will be an issue of poor road because of rains.”

Fereter Falow Alow, an Ethiopian trader who sales mix goods in Rumbek Market affirms that the prices of commodities shoot up due to high rate of US dollars.

Trader Falow stated that unless the government intervenes in reducing the dollar rate, commodity prices cannot reduce as traders follow the market in Juba.

“If US dollar rate reduces, we can reduce the prices of commodities in the market immediately and if dollar adds, we can also add our prices,” he noted.

Meanwhile the chairman of chamber of commerce in Rumbek Central County, Lakes State, Jima Gar Maluac, acknowledged the sharp increase on commodity prices; he equally attributed it to increase on US dollar rates.

“In Rumbek today, the rate of 100 US dollars is 100,000 SSP and the commodity prices have followed the dollar too” he noted.

He said the traders are not to be blamed for the increase of prices because the dollar has also increased.

“The traders are receiving a lot of complaints from the citizens in the market that they are the problem of high prices, but the issue is the dollar rates which keep increasing every time,” he said.

According to Jima, traders are not the cause of dollar rate increment in the market, but responsibility of the government.

“Let the government see with both eyes the issue of US dollars properly in the market. Now, we are getting confusion, you sell a commodity to a customer yesterday with different price, and today you sell it at another different price. This is so embarrassing, shameful and disappointing between traders and customers in the market,” he said.

Rumbek Municipality Mayor in Lakes State, Peter Maliath Chieny said that high prices in the markets, is a global issue.

He cited the law of demand and supply in commerce which says when demand of is high, prices in the market increases and when demand is low prices reduce.

“So, at this time around the demand of the people is high and that’s why you see high increase of price commodities going high” he correlated.

Last, month the government of Lakes State purchased grains from Sudan and the council of ministers sat down and determined the price, the grain is going to be subsidized for the suffering population.

The state cabinet resolved that 1 bag of grains should be sold at 25,000 SSP and the prices were set to allow citizens to afford to put meal on their tables instead of buying maize flour at a higher price which many couldn’t afford.

Mayor Maliath said the grains are available from the government store, but he wonders why locals prepare to go for the expensive maize flour.

“I don’t know, what (is) problem of our people. They leave the grains available in the store, and they go and buy expensive maize flour in the market, and they started complaining about the market prices to the government,” he said.

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