Rising prices pinching consumers hard

BY: Hadiza Nuhhu-Billa Quansah
Prices of vegetables such as cabbage and onions are very high.
Prices of vegetables such as cabbage and onions are very high.

With barely a few weeks to the Christmas celebrations, prices of goods and services including sachet water seem to be increasing by the day.

Yes, the ever popular “Pure Water”, perhaps, the cheapest commodity which comes in handy for every ordinary Joe during the hot weather, has also not been spared the recent price increases.

While consumers are expressing concern about the price escalation, traders seem to be pushing the blame on the cedi-dollar disparities, import duties, high production and distribution costs — and there appears to be no end in sight even as the Yuletide approaches.

Social Media commentary monitored by this reporter showed clearly that the soaring prices are creating discomfort among the public, many of whom are dreading the consequences in December when demand for consumables generally rise as traders profit from the Yuletide season.
The social media angst seems to be in the area of groceries and food items as items in shopping baskets shrink as the weeks pass by.

A few days ago, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, Founding President of IMANI Africa, sparked a "Nido challenge" on social media.

He posted about how extremely expensive Nido had become — with a 400g tin increasing from GH¢20 ‘recently’ to GH¢34.99 now —  and asked whether the rising cost of the popular powdered milk brand was exposing the weak fundamentals of the economy of Ghana.

“Nido, just recently sold for 20 cedis is today 34.99 cedis. What is going on? Obviously the Nido micro and macro fundamentals are very weak.” he wrote on his Facebook wall.

Similarly, on Monday, November 5, the National Association of Sachet and Packaged Water Producers (NASPAWAP) announced that prices of their products had been revised upwards due to the rising cost of production and distribution.

A statement signed by the National Director of Corporate Affairs of NASPAWAP, Mr Kwame Agyapon Ntra, stated that “for the information of the general public, the price of sachet water will go up to GH¢3.50 pesewas from all trucks and depots effective November 12, 2018.

 The price review has been necessitated by the cost of production and distribution.”

A market watch by The Mirror conducted at various markets in Accra namely, Makola, Agbogbloshie, Adabraka, Madina, Mallam Atta, Nima and Kaneshie, from last month to Wednesday, November 7, showed that prices of products are indeed in a state of instability.

As at the beginning of October, a pack of 500 ml of water was selling between GH¢7.5 and GH¢8.5 with the box of 1.5 litre going for GH¢16.
Currently, the pack of 500ml ranges between GH¢10 and GH¢13 while the box of 1.5 litre is selling at GH¢ 23 per box.

A five kilogram bag of rice which was selling between GH¢25 and GH¢32 hovered between GH¢36.5 and GH¢85 depending on the brand of rice.

Prices of vegetables such as tomatoes and onions were also very high.

A paint bucket-sized pile of tomatoes which was selling between five cedis and GH¢10 in September has jumped to GH¢50 cedis per bucket and you can only have it for a few cedis less depending on your negotiating skills with the traders.

In fact, the traders said a box of tomatoes which was selling at GH¢300 is now going for GH¢800 cedis.

At the onions market at Agbogbloshie in Accra, a medium size basketful of onions is selling between GH¢85 and GH¢150 depending on the size of the onions while about six pieces of the medium size onions could be bought at GH¢10.

Moreover, prices of cabbage, sweet pepper and cucumber have equally shot up. For instance, four medium size of green pepper and a small size cabbage are five cedis, respectively.

At the bus terminals and some of the grocery shops, a loaf of bread ranging between six and eight cedis is being sold at nine cedis and GH¢12 respectively.

A pack of coke (0.35 litres) was between GH¢18 and GH¢20 however, it is currently being sold at GH¢25.

Moreover, a pack of Beta Malt which was going for GH¢23 cedis is now being sold at GH¢27 by retailers.

Interestingly, around Adabraka and Okaishie, suburbs of Accra, some of the traders have also hoarded some of the canned drinks which are old stock, stating they would only sell them during the Christmas festivities in order to increase their profit margins.

Likewise, a crate of eggs which used to be GH¢15 cedis now ranges between GH¢18 and GH¢25.

Again, casual footwear which are usually sold by young men on carts along the streets for between five and seven cedis are now being sold at GH¢15 and GH¢25 around Cowlane and Kantamanto.

However, prices of yams and plantain seem to be a bit reasonable.

 One can buy three big tubers of yams (puna) for GH¢20 while a bunch of plantain is between GH1¢5 and GH¢30 cedis.

The prices of both smoked and fried fish are equally not getting better by the day.

 In the past weeks, an American tin of fried fish (small fishes) which was sold at GH¢15 cedis at the Adabraka market is now GH¢35 cedis while the medium size smoked tuna fish which sold between GH¢7 and GH¢10 cedis is now being sold between GH¢15 and GH¢25 cedis.

Mrs Asha Thanki Tamaklo who believes prices of consumer items are getting out of hand wrote on this reporter's Facebook wall that a basket of tomatoes which she used to buy at GH¢60 cedis whenever she travelled to the Volta Region had almost quadrupled.

“I was in Keta over the weekend and usually buy a big basket of tomatoes for GH¢60 but this time it was GH¢200, walahi talahi!”, she bemoaned.