Maize flour shortage has hit most retail shops and supermarket in Machakos and Kajiado.
A survey we conducted Monday in Machakos, Kitengela and Athi River towns showed the situation is grave as customers seeking maize flour were being turned away.
At Machakos’ Peter Mulei Supermarket, customers who were luck to pick remaining maize flour packets from the shelves were cautioned to only buy two 2kg packets per person.
But customers who went to Tuskeys Supermarket in Athi River were shocked to find empty shelves in sections set aside for maize flour.
The situation was the same at the Eastmatt Supermarket in Kitengela. There was no maize flour on the shelves.
At Kitengela’s Naivas Supermarket, the shelves were also empty and owners claimed they made an order last week from their millers but had not received any official communications on the availability of maize flour.
There has not been maize flour in Kitengela for the last one week and residents are now trooping to Namanga border town to buy ration.
One 90kg bag of maize on the Tanzanian side of the border is selling at Sh5, 000 while a bale of popular ‘Chaguo la Mama’ brand of maize flour is selling at Sh1, 800.
One bale contains 20kg of maize flour, and Kenyans crossing to Tanzania are required to pay a tax of Sh20 for each packet of 1kg so that they can be allowed to cross back to the country.
According to Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich in April this year, the price of a 2kg packet of maize was expected to come down to Ksh115 from Sh153.
Rotich had said the move would bring down the cost of living since most Kenyans rely on the maize flour as their staple food.
The high cost of the flour has been linked to the biting maize shortage in the country that has led to a low supply despite the high demand of the commodity.
Rotich, who was speaking after a meeting with millers from across the country, had said the national budget initiatives he read in Parliament aimed at lowering food prices would take effect immediately, and that would see food prices lower marginally to ease Kenyans’ pain.
The CS also said order on importation of cheaper maize from Mexico and Ethiopia would be gazetted immediately and imports of maize would land in the country in a month’s time.
Rotich added that the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) were also expected to release one million bags of maize to millers from its strategic reserves to further ease prices.