Shortage of fish in Kitale occasions sharp hike in prices

Fish traders at a market. [ames Omoro, Standard]

Scarcity of fish has hit parts of Trans Nzoia County causing a sharp increase in consumer prices.

Dealers of fish products said they source the products from Lake Turkana but supplies have since declined over the recent past thus affecting prices.

Fishmongers in Kitale decried the scarcity saying it had made it difficult to lure customers to buy at new prices making their stocks go to waste.

Anne Nasimiyu, a fishmonger at Soko Mjinga in Kitale town pointed out that the average daily supplies of lorries that ferried between 20 to 30 baskets of fish had declined.

She said supplies are currently made using saloon cars and the prices have increased tremendously.

"Fish prices have soared high and it has been an uphill task for us to sell since most consumers cannot afford it due to the harsh economic situation," she explained.

Nasimiyu who is also chair lady of fishmongers at the market said she had reports fishing had been temporarily halted in Lake Turkana but hoped the situation would normalize soon.

Another trader, Beatrice Onyango said revenue collectors capitalize on the situation and fleece the county government by asking for Sh100 bribes from traders, which they pocket instead of collecting the legal Sh160 levy for the county.

"It is our humble request to the county government to lower levies so that we can pay without defaulting," she appealed.

Ms Onyango pointed out that fish was also transported by passenger buses from Lake Turkana, over 350 kilometers North of Kitale to cut on costs, hence the shortage in supply.

A medium-sized deep-fried fish that used to retail at Sh 150 at the market now goes for about Sh 250 while a larger one of Sh 400 now sells at between Sh 550 and Sh 600.

Fish scarcity has led to increased demand for chicken with a cock that cost an average of Sh 900 now shooting to at least Sh 1,300 due to the high demand.

Trans Nzoia Trade and Industry County Executive Committee Member Captain Stanley Kirui said the county administration has made reviews in its taxes to cushion traders from the harsh economic times.

Kirui said most levies had been reduced by huge margins including the daily collections from mama mboga, which has been slashed from Sh 40 to Sh 20.

He said the move is aimed at ensuring traders pay taxes directly to the county government other than giving out Sh 20 to the revenue collectors who fail to issue receipts and instead pocket the money.

The CECM further revealed that more would still be done to ensure that the traders get the best working environment and pay favourable taxes.

"Adjusting taxes downwards is a process that involves public participation, approval by the assembly and governor's endorsement, it is a route that we have always to take whenever there is need," said Captain Kirui.

He insisted that in as much as the government may adjust taxes downwards to favour traders, it was paramount that all traders pay their taxes without fail for the government to operate effectively.

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