Rumbek traders close shops as state govt forcefully reduces commodity prices

Rumbek traders close shops as state govt forcefully reduces commodity prices
Rumbek traders close shops as state govt forcefully reduces commodity prices

Africa-Press – South-Sudan. Merchants in the Lakes State capital Rumbek have firmly kept their shops closed as of Thursday to protest the state government’s order last week to forcefully reduce and set commodity prices.

Last week, seven traders were detained at the National Security Service’s facility in Rumbek’s Makoi suburb for allegedly refusing to abide by the ministerial order following a meeting between traders, the new mayor of Rumbek, and the state minister of trade and industry.

The seven traders were released on Saturday after a day behind bars but shops in Rumbek market remain closed as merchants continue their strike against the state government’s price reduction order across the state.

Lakes State Minister of Trade and Industry State Rebecca Enock Machouc told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that the state government issued an order reducing the commodity prices which came into force on Monday in Rumbek and that it will be implemented in all the counties.

“A 50 Kg bag of maize flour that was selling at SSP 70,000 SSP will be sold at 45,000 and a 50 Kg bag of beans that has been 90,000 will be sold at 50,000 while 50 Kg of sugar has been reduced to 57,000 from SSP 85,000,” she said. “We will be taking waybills from the traders and this will be done in all counties. This will also be done according to the dollar rate at the time the trader bought the items and this will determine the selling price.”

“If we allow them (traders) to sell at their will, it will be horrible for our citizens because by the time the dollar reaches SSP 200,000, a bag of maize flour may be sold at 100,000 and this will not be fair,” Minister Machuoc added.

For his part, the chairperson of the Traders Union in Rumbek, Altieb Ibrahim, said the order will make them incur losses.

“We purchased food items from Juba at high prices and the decision made by the state government will not favor our businesses here in Rumbek Town,” he explained. “The forceful reduction of prices is affecting us terribly because we bought items expensively. If we sell them cheaply, this will not allow traders to continue bringing goods from Juba.”

Meanwhile, Daniel Laat Kon, a civil society activist and the coordinator of Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) in Lakes State, criticized the state government’s move, saying it will scare away traders as it will force them to make losses.

“The order should be first studied and the traders and consumers should be brought together by the government in the first place to understand the nature of change that will be determined in the prices,” he stated. “If the government comes up with it without looking at the other factors, it will force the traders to leave Lakes State because it looks unfair to them.”

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