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Karamoja food prices spike after closure of Moroto-Nakapiripirit-Mbale road

Food prices in some districts of Karamoja sub region have increased again following the closure of the Moroto-Nakapiripirit-Muyembe-Mbale road after April floods washed away several bridges along its length.

 The route, which is preferred by traders transporting merchandise from Bugisu and Sebei region to Karamoja, was closed at the start of May by theUganda National Roads Authority (UNRA)  for maintenance, forcing traders in Bugisu and Sebei region to take a 350km detour from Mbale, Soroti, Katakwi, and Napak to Moroto and connect again to Nakapiripirit and Amudat.

The increased transport costs have led to a spike in food prices in Karamoja, theCooperator has established.

In just two weeks, the price of sugar in Moroto Municipality has risen 12.5%, from Shs 4000 per kilogramme to Shs 4,500, while the price of maize flour is up 23%, from Shs 3,000 to Shs 3,700 per kilo. Three tomatoes cost between Shs 2,000 to 3,000 depending on size.

Sarah Namboze, a tomatoes trader in Moroto, said the closure of the shortest route to Karamoja has caused many traders to incur losses.

She said although the Mbale- Moroto road is tarmacked, traders spend a lot more taking it because of the distance (350km) compared to using the Mbale-Muyembe-Nakapiripirit-Moroto road which is about 200km long.

According to Namboze, before the closure of the shortest route to Karamoja, they used to pay Shs 5,000 to transport each 100 kg bag of maize flour, but now the cost of transport has doubled, with transporters charging Shs 10,000 per bag because of having to use a longer route to get to Karamoja.

“We are forced to increase the prices of commodities trying to recover what we are being charged for using the long route,” she said, “but still we are not making any profit because customers have no money due to this lockdown.“

Moses Pulkol, another business man from Nakapiripirit district appealed to government to tarmac the Nakapiripirit-Mbale road as well, so that the region can compete fully with the rest of the country in terms of development.

Mark Lomongin, a resident of Moroto town said he has been forced to cut down on the number of meals his family takes due to the high cost of living. 

“When my family eats a heavy lunch, they take porridge for supper. That’s how I am trying to manage this situation, because even all my businesses are locked due to the COVID-19 effect,” he said.  

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