A survey conducted by the ‘Daily News’ early this week showed that some food vendors, for example those at Mwaloni area right at the shores of lake Victoria sell dishes like rice and beans at the prices of 300/-. A plate of rice and meat goes for 800/- while vendors like the ones at Ilemela sell the same types of food between 1,000 and 1,500/-.
“We in Ilemela wonder how our colleagues at Mwaloni sell food at such ridiculously low prices. We wonder how they manage to make a profit,” laments Ms Deborah. “In the past I used to get many customers, around 40 customers a day, but nowadays I hardly get 10 customers a day. I believe this trend is contributed highly to increased unfair competitions,” says another vendor.
The Ilemela vendors say that many people at Mwaloni prefer buy ‘ugali’ and ‘dagaa’ (sardines). Mrs Hija Shaaban (40), a resident of Kirumba area, says during the peak season of ‘dagaa’ between December and June the following year, she gets many customers. In Mwanza City, the current price for a kilogramme of rice is between 1,800-2,200/-, while 20 kilogrammes of maize flour is sold at 12,000/.
Last November, for example, the food stuffs were sold at an average of 1,200/- and 8,000/- respectively. The Ilemela vendors are suspicious of the vendors selling plates of food at 300/- raising more questions than answers. A few customers also share the same sentiment.
“We strongly believe that those selling food at such low prices, like 300/- or 500/- per one plate of rice and beans, are doing that because they know the quality of food is substantially poor,” suggested Ms Angela Nazi. Ms Nazi (60), a resident of Mabatini area in Nyamagana district, narrates that experience has shown that such vendors, for example, sell food in unhygienic surroundings.
“You find that some of these vendors set up their businesses in filthy areas. Rehema Nuru (52), a resident of Kirumba in Ilemela district is of the opinion that the increase of food vendors across the city will create more problems as many of them simply start their businesses anywhere, not taking into consideration the location, she says.
The Mwaloni vendors, however, dismiss these allegations that they are a nuisance to the public. On the contrary they say they are there to provide services to people in need. “Not everyone can afford to buy food in big, sophisticated hotels here in the city. So we target the vast majority people, mostly the low income earners,” says one vendor at Mwaloni International Fish Market.
The Mwaloni International Fish Market Business Community Chairperson Christopher Wankyo says the market authority has introduced special committees to oversee operations. “The health committee, for example, is charged with the responsibility to ensure all food vendors and other traders keep their areas clean.
The reconciliation committee is there to mediate conflicts amongst traders here,” says the chairperson. Officials say the food vendors have an association known as the Women Food Vendors Co-operative Society. Mr Wankyo says the organization pays 300,000/- as fees for doing businesses to Mwanza City Council.
A significant number of the vendors, however, have not registered themselves to the co-operative society. These are the ones who are in most cases scattered in various corners of the city. “It is fundamentally crucial for the city council to take tougher measures against the food vendors who don’t adhere to the city’s stipulated regulations in doing businesses,” said one city resident Mwanaisha Hamis.