Kenyans at the borders of Tanzania and Uganda are now crossing borders to buy basic food commodities such as maize, milk and sugar to satisfy their daily needs.
According to Kenyan media reports, this is due to the biting shortage of the commodities in most Kenyan towns. Majority of residents near Busia and Malaba borders are crossing to the neighbouring countries to shop as it is slightly cheaper there.
In Uganda, Weekend Business established that most shops are retailing a 2kg packet of maize at Sh140 compared to Kenyan supermarkets selling the same at Sh160.
Consequently, Kenyans have opted to buy maize from grain stores in Uganda, located a few kilometres from the border.
A kilo of sugar is sold at Sh150 while supermarkets in Busia sell the commodity at Sh200. Stephen Obala of Busia Traders Association said residents had no alternative but to cross over to Uganda. John Oduor is one of those buying maize from Uganda.
"I just walk to the market in Uganda to buy maize because the price is lower," he said.
In Taita Taveta County, unscrupulous traders have been hoarding basic commodities. Local traders said due to this, the county is now facing an acute shortage of the basic food products.
Interviews with traders in Voi, Mwatate, Wundanyi and Taveta border town indicate some unscrupulous traders from both Kenya and Tanzania might be hoarding the foodstuff.
Residents and traders in Taveta town situated along the Kenya-Tanzania border said they have been buying sugar from the neighbouring country in the recent past but it had ran out of stock. "We have been buying a kilogramme of sugar from Tanzania for between Sh120 and Sh130 but the commodity has run out of stock," said Barnaba Maimbo, a Taveta town resident.
"Tanzania has started importing sugar hence occasioning the shortage," said another resident. Traders interviewed said they have been secretly importing food supplies cheaply from Tanzania and selling at higher prices in the local market.
A Voi trader disclosed that a 50kg bag sugar from Tanzania was locally trading at Sh8,400. She has been buying the bag from Tanzania for Sh6,300.
The trader said a kilogramme of sugar in Tanzania is going for between Sh190 to Sh200 in Voi town, the commercial business hub of the county.
Another cereal trader in Voi town, Eliza Mwatu said they were now getting maize from Moyale border.
She said they are buying a bag of maize at Sh4,500 and selling locally at Sh5,400.
"One kilogramme of maize in Voi is going at Sh60 but there is shortage in the area," said the trader yesterday.
A survey in Wundanyi town shows that residents are buying one kilogramme of sugar for Sh190 while maize flour goes for between Sh170 and Sh200.