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Kenyans worry about increasing cost of food as Treasury prepares budget statement

Charles Awiti, prepares food for his customers at his small food kiosk in Nairobi's Pipeline on March 29 2017.He says the cost of living has lately gone up to unbearable levels, pushing small business people like him out of market. Awiti, calls for the government to put up measures to ensure basic necessities like flour are available at affordable prices. PHOTO DAVID NJAAGA/STANDARD

NAIROBI: Walking along the filthy, narrow alleys that separate the tin shanties of Mukuru kwa Njenga slums in Nairobi feels like wandering in a post-historic earth; an earth where civilisation is lost.

Mukuru is where I meet Charles Awiti, a 31-year-old father of three who owns a small, ramshackle hotel built right in the centre of a garbage heap.

Mr Awiti has little interest in what happens outside the slums. He has even less interest in the dangers that the garbage heap and its decaying waste poses for him and his customers.

And he has no idea whether the Budget speech will be read today.

But when he hears that Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich will take to the parliamentary podium to give a speech that could possibly improve his life, his desolate eyes widen with anxiety.

“If only the price of maize and wheat flour could go down, then my business and my family can be saved,” he says.

Three children

“My wife, three children and I work in this hotel and get our daily meals here. We don’t cook at home. My customers have been dwindling since I began serving smaller rations of food, especially ugali, after food prices went up. I decided to reduce the rations rather than increase the price.”

Awiti explains that the price of unga (flour) rose from Sh110 to Sh150. Prices of vegetables such as kale, tomatoes and cabbage, which are prominent in his kitchen, have also gone up.

“On a good day, I make Sh200 as profit. If that budget brings the cost of food down, then I will be happy even if I live in Mukuru all my life,” he adds.

As Mr Rotich reads his Budget speech today, many struggling Kenyans couldn’t care less about the grandiose macro-economic indicators that are sure to pepper his words.

All they, like Awiti, want is for the cost of food to go down.

Related Topics

budget 2017/18