Mwanza. Prices of fish and chicken rose here yesterday due to an increase in demand, which was triggered by the scarcity of meat as butchery operators went on strike over losses they incur following a new auction setup.
Prices of chicken, fish and sardines are up by between 16 and 50 per cent. Until yesterday, one would pay Sh8,000 to buy a four-litre bucket loaded with sardines at the Mwanza Main Market, up from Sh6,000. Similarly, a local chicken was sold at between Sh15,000 and Sh18,000 yesterday, rising from a range of Sh12,000 and Sh15,000. The strike, which went into its second day yesterday, is precipitated by what the traders say is a loss that they incur after paying numerous costs and levies to local government authorities.
Justin Martin and Musa Awadhi, who normally buys cows from Misungwi livestock auction and transport them to Mwanza city to slaughter, said the costs they incur to run the business were very high compared to the profit they made.
“We pay a total of Sh33,000 for transport and slaughtering a single cow from Misungwi to Mwanza. The amount includes what we pay to gatekeepers at the auction, tax payable to the government as well transport costs from the slaughterhouse to where our shops are,” said Justin Martin, who buys cows at Misungwi livestock auction.
Explaining the costs, the chairman of the Mwanza City main market, Mr Hamad Nchora, said butchery operators pay Sh6,500 as government tax and Sh1,000 for transporting one cow from Misungwi to the slaughterhouse.
While awaiting their turns to have their cattle slaughtered, they seek the service of casual labourers to take care of them who are paid Sh4,200. When it is time to transport them to the slaughterhouse, putting the live animals into a vehicle is yet another task that require traders to seek the service of experienced labourers at a cost of Sh1,000 per cow. While at the slaughter house, the traders pay Sh9,000 for the slaughtering service at the abattoir and Sh600 for the person slaughtering the animals. The traders also pay Sh5,000 for transportation of the meat from the slaughterhouse to their shops. “So if you calculate, our costs per cow range between Sh33,000 and Sh35,000 per day,” said Mr Nchora.
Butchers kept their shops closed in different parts of the city and threatened to enforce an indefinite strike if their demand was not met. They want the government to relocate the auction from Misungwi – which is several tens of kilometres away from Mwanza – to a place that is closer to the city.