By Sailu Bah
Traders, who are coming from far and near destinations both in and outsid the country and converging at the weekly ‘Lumo’ market day at Ndungu Kebbeh, have been highlighting the problems they face regarding the high expenses they have to make to buy and resell items.
At the Lumo markets that are held in different days and locations around the country, traders, farmers and other customers converge to engage in the buying and selling of a variety of goods ranging from farmers produce such as cereals, livestock etc to household items and clothing among others.
When this reporter visited the Ndungu Kebbeh Lumo on Saturday, 9th August 2014, one Ablie Gaye, a trader in his 70s, explained how he has been engaged in this trade of buying farmers produce cheaply and then bringing the stuff and selling them at the markets in the urban area without problems. He said the trade was very lucrative before, but that now they have to incur a lot of expenses which creates problem for their business.
“We buy the produce from the farmers very expensively and then pay for transportation at a very high and increasing cost. I used to buy a bag of groundnuts, maize and millet at a very low price, but now it has risen to D2600 per bag, plus transportation at D55 for each bag which is very expensive for us,” said Gaye.
He said customers use to blame them for increasing the prices, but added that it is not their fault as they need to make profit from the business they are doing.
He also admitted that the customers do not buy their goods if they are expensive and that this is why business is very slow for them nowadays.
“The slow business is really affecting us as we are facing difficulties in managing our households,” concluded the old trader.
Isatou Darboe, coming all the way from Sinchu in the Kombos, also reiterated the high cost of the goods they buy at the Lumo. She said a bag of onion used to cost less than D700, but now it has increased to D800 for the smaller bag and D900 for the bigger bag.
“When I bought goods from the Lumo, I always face difficulties in transporting them to my final destination,” she revealed.
Madam Darboe said to transport their goods from the Lumo to Barra, the drivers charge them D15 and D20 for the small and big bags respectively and that they pay the same amounts from the garage to the gate of the ferry terminal and also from there to the ferry. She added that the same expenses are incurred on transportation when they reached Banjul and taking the stuff to the final destination. “I pay D65 from the ferry terminal to Coastal Road (Sinchu Alagi),” she said.
She said before they only pay the wheelbarrow porter to take the bags from the vehicle up to the ferry at a reasonable cost,” noted Madam Darboe.
Another woman trader, Ndey Cham, said they are only in the business because as family heads they cannot just sit down and expect everything from their husbands. She however said the business they are doing is no longer lucrative unlike before when they used to make good profits.
She also lamented the losses they incur as a result of having the perishable produce such as onions in their custody. “Sometimes the some onions even get rotten before you reach your final destination,” she said.
Madam Cham said she used to invest up to D34, 000 to buy onions and pepper from farmers in order to go and sell them at the Serrekunda market.
She called on the authorities to evolve schemes to support the small economic operators who are engaged in trade at the Lumos and cereal markets.