NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 13 – The Muthurwa Retail Market is a microcosm of the wider Kenyan society – there are those looking to buy and those looking to sell.
Whichever category they fall under at any one time, whether they acknowledge it or not, the 2013/ 2014 budgetary statement, to be made Thursday, will influence their quality of life.
Twenty-nine-year-old John Kiragu is however acutely aware of this as he goes about his business roasting maize and sweet potatoes at the market’s entrance.
“I’ve been doing this job for the last three years and the cost of fuel is what determines whether work picks up or declines. The amount I spend on transport is the greatest determinant of how much I charge for my maize and in turn, how much I take home,” Kiragu explained.
Mama Christine stands hand on hip staring down at a collection of pots that hold simmering food. Occasionally, she bends down to stir or add an ingredient.
It’s imperative that she gets it just right so her clients don’t go looking for a meal in one of the adjoining stalls; with a 15-year-old who’s just joined form one, every Sh20 of food sold counts.
“I want the cost of unga (maize meal) to reduce, the cost of wheat flour to come down as well as the cost of cooking fat because we sell to the average Kenyan and the average Kenyan cannot afford much more than Sh70 per meal,” Mama Christine says.
Twenty-one year old Stephen Musyimi is one of those who cannot afford more than Sh30 for a breakfast meal of ugali and chunks of boiled goat head. “I hawk clothes, shoes, whatever sells. My landlord in Kayole expects Sh2,000 at the end of the month and I only just get by. I don’t know how I’ll make ends meet if things get much more expensive.”
Lucy Wambui has been selling onions for the last 10 years of her 30-year existence to put food in the mouths of her two children and to meet her Sh1,000 rent in the Kibera slum every month.
And like Kiragu, Wambui would like to purchase the onions she sells for less. “The onions I sell come from Tanzania and by the time they get here, they’re already so expensive.”
Kevin Ochieng left Kisii for Nairobi in search of the elusive pot of gold only months ago, on learning he got a C in his form four exams, but he quickly learnt that life in the city can be an expensive affair.
The eighteen-year-old now transports fish on a hand cart and a drop in the price of basic commodities would be a reprieve, “Life is hard. It would make such a difference if the cost of unga, rent, petrol, come down.”