2008-like Strike Looms As Bread, Other Commodities Prices Hikes

Buea Mile 17 bread hawker scrambles for bread as bus makes stop

Buea Mile 17 bread hawker scrambles for bread as bus makes stop

By Njodzeka Danhatu

Bread sellers in Buea, Southwest Region of Cameroon have expressed discontent with the increase in the prices of bread.

They have said if nothing is being done about it, they will embark on a one week strike.

They aired their frustration on Wednesday, February 16, following a recent increase in the prices of flour and wheat bran that has inadvertently increased that of bread.

The Post met one of the Unions of bread sellers in Mile 17 known as United Strugglers. They were arguing in a meeting as they planned to confront the bakers who are supplying them with bread.

Talking to the Union Leader, Comfort Mua, said at first the bakers used to give 25 loaves of Kumba bread in one cartoon at a cost of FCFA 5000 but now they have reduced to 20 loaves still maintaining the cost.

Before the increase, they used to sell 25 loaves of Kumba bread in a cartoon and profit FCFA 2500. But with the current dispensation, they now receive 20 instead of 25 loaves of bread and profit FCFA 1000 instead of FCFA2500.

Since they are retailers, they have shifted the cost to consumers. Now, a loave of Kumba bread which was sold at FCFA300 is costing FCFA 350 and FCFA 400 in other places.

Equally, the same increased prices for Kumba bread obtain for a blockade, another type of bread popularly common in Anglophone Regions.

A loave of ‘agege’, which is bread sliced into pieces is now sold at FCFA 600 instead of FCFA500. One of the sellers told The Post that, to meet the cost, the quality of agege has been reduced.

With this situation, the Union said they will not sell.

“We just want to rest for one week so that we will see what the people selling flour will do” Comfort Mua said hoping that “Maybe they will reduce the price”

According to Ornella Mbi, a University student selling bread as a part-time job said, the increase has stressed them a lot. With the increase, she said bread has remained scarce making them go as far as Mutengene which is 12.6km away from Buea.

“We used to buy Kumba bread for FCFA 250 and sell at 300, now, the price has increased and sold for FCFA350 to consumers is difficult,” she said.

At Malingo, Mary Tituh, a store seller said 1 kg of flour which is used to be FCFA 400 is now at FCFA 500.

However, boulangerie which is sold at FCFA 100 in other areas in costs FCFA125 in Buea.

The Post visited a bakery in Buea which the baker said 50kg of flour was supplied at FCFA17,000 is now costing FCFA22,000 and 23,000.

A wholesale supplier of flour who spoke to The Post anonymously confirmed the increase and said bakery owners were on strike for the sudden increase.

Reuters on February 9 reported that Cameroon’s association of millers has suspended deliveries of flour and wheat bran throughout the country due to the rising price of wheat.

It quoted the association which represents 70% of the market for flour production in Cameroon saying “This measure taken reluctantly aims to limit the scope of losses that these companies have been recording for three months because of the uninterrupted and unprecedented increase in the price of wheat, their raw material, and insufficient measures from the public authorities to help them acquire it,”

The millers’ association, Reuter further said it would need an adjustment to selling prices to be able to buy wheat and make flour available again.

However, it is not the the prices of flour or bread that has surged, basic amenities like groundnut oil, salt among others have equally skyrocketed.

Before Christmass period, a littre of groundnut oil that was sold at FCFA1,000 is now costing FCFA1,500.

This has leave many in anger who feel that what happened in 2008 when they was a general price increase of basic commodities may increased.

However, it is noted in history that, in 1879, King Louis XVI of France was removed from owing the revolution of which one of the igniters was the increase in the prices of Bread.

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