Evans Asava
Mary Awino
South Sudan
Southern Sudan
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Traders now go for Juba charcoal

Scarcity of charcoal in the country has seen traders flock to Busia for supplies coming from South Sudan.

Reuben Chesimei, who has several outlets in Kakamega town, said he had placed orders for charcoal from South Sudan, where it goes for between Sh1,650 and Sh1,700 per 50kg bag.

“Dealers from Mombasa, Nairobi and Western are camping in Busia to secure part of the supplies from Juba, South Sudan. We pay Sh12,000 as excise duty for every 120 bags at the border point,” Mr Chesimei told The Standard yesterday.

The price of a 50kg bag of charcoal has shot up to Sh2,000 in Kakamega, Bungoma and Vihiga counties up from Sh1,000 before a ban by the Government came into effect.

Residents are feeling the pinch – particularly people living in households on low incomes.

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Another trader, Mary Awino, said police seized the charcoal she was bringing in from South Sudan, in Nambale.

“I had placed the order three weeks earlier and on arrival, police intercepted it and held it for three more days,” said Ms Awino.

Awino said she was finding it difficult paying school fees for her children, one of them an undergraduate student.

Evans Asava said at times he was torn between buying a tin of charcoal or food.

“I hustle daily to put food on the table, it’s painful spending Sh100 on a tin of charcoal instead of buying Unga,” said Asava.

According to him, crime level could rise if the situation persists since most youths are jobless and struggling; a majority hardly make Sh100 a day.

Gulu in Northern parts of Uganda not far away from Juba in Southern Sudan is also a major source of charcoal.

The charcoal is ferried to Busia Kenya daily before traders come to buy it in wholesale.

Weswa Sanoni is one of the charcoal sellers at the infamous Sofia Point on the border of Kenya and Uganda.

He sells a sack at Sh1,200 up from Sh900.

The demand is too high and that is why he has decided to increase the cost.

At any given time trucks park at the No Man’s Land to load charcoal and transport to other parts of the country particularly in Nairobi.

“Kenya is our biggest market and we sell in bulk because they go and retail in the other towns,” said Sanoni.

“Right now the business is doing well due to rainfall but I know once rains decreases we shall reduce,” he added.

Josephine Nandudu started retailing charcoal in 1995 on the Kenya-Uganda border.

“Those who ferry the charcoal to Sofia also increase the price of transportation so as sell to us and get profit, we have to hike the cost,” said Nandudu.

Jacinter Atieno who has been selling charcoal in Busia town for years said she had not increased the price, but had reduced the quantity.

“When I increase the price with our bad economy my customers may not be able to afford,” she said.


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