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Tough economy: Funnels on sale is more than hawking

Xn Iraki


Our highways double as supermarkets. I pay special attention to what’s sold in that market. It gives us the pulse of the economy, often better than official statistics.

The latest item on sale on Uhuru highway is funnels. We used them to fill up our paraffin lamps. The most popular model of lamps was Dietz. Some youngsters have not seen such novelties. 

Why are funnels on sale in the city where electric power is available? Economic reality has brought them to the city.

They are handy in filling up the fuel tank if your car runs out of fuel. The economic reality is that filling up a tank is no longer possible. And running out of fuel is not unusual.

Are you surprised that the booming business in funnels came after fuel prices hit Sh200 per litre? 

That increased the chances of motorists running out of fuel.  Andrew Gichuki, an MBA student at The University of Nairobi posted this on a group. 

“Today, I saw two stalled motorists driving a Mercedes and an X-Trail adding fuel to their cars using jerry cans. Was just wondering whether it‘s because of the biting economy or its people living beyond their means.”

 He concluded: “Kenyans like buying big cars using borrowed money.” 

Fuel station

Funnels on sale indicate the economy is doing badly. And it’s not just small car owners suffering but even the affluent. Have you noted that once you take a taxi, the next stop is a fuel station?

Who wants to “keep money” in the fuel? Noted the same with airtime? We only buy airtime when we want to call, no one wants to “keep money “on the phone!

A just-in-time inventory system has become the default for our economy. We no longer want to keep inventories, be it fuel, airtime, or even food in the house. 

We could extend the funnel thinking further into our bank accounts. Savings are low because the economic demands can’t be allowed. 

Some motorists have taken a step further and outsourced transport to matatus or buses; no more worry over running out of fuel and running around with a jerry can and a funnel. What if my students found me filing up my Vitz?

Before the funnels were on sale, we used to cut the bottom part of the bottle and use it as a funnel. But it seems even such bottles are unavailable.

Remember when everyone carried a bottle of mineral water? Today we buy reusable bottles and carry water from home. That funnel on sale is not just about hawking, it’s a snapshot of hard economic reality.   Bought one lately? Talk to us. 

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