Citizens complain the price hike is worsened by the fact that available fish is of doubtful quality.
Many households that consume fish on a regular basis are apparently looking for alternatives following the current shortage of the product in cold stores across the country. Some customers who lined up to purchase assorted species of fish at the main fish store in the Mvog Atangana Balla neighbourhood in Yaounde, yesterday told Cameroon Tribune that it has been more than one week, they have been grappling with the shortage of fish coupled with an increase in prices. “A kilogram of the fish I just bought was sold at FCFA 900 two weeks ago. Today I am buying a kilogram at the cost of FCFA 1000 per kilogram.
I learned there is a shortage but we do not know the reason,” one of the customers who preferred not to be named said. He also added that it would appear the fish sold at the moment had been imported long ago and was not stored properly. “Some of them look like they are decaying,” he said. Eric Marius Bilegue, owner of a fish store in the Mvog Atangana Balla blames the shortage on major importers of fish.
He says prices of fish fluctuate at a disturbing rate. He is of the opinion that government should not tighten regulation on importation of fish and prevent importers from re-exporting imported fish from the Douala seaport to other countries when it is insufficient for local consumption. He also thinks importers, like CONGELCAM and Queen Fish should not be allowed to operate retail shops.
“Mackerel and the bar fish are the most consumed fishes. They have suddenly become very expensive. One week ago, I bought 20kg of Bar Corvine at FCFA 26, 000, this week it is sold at FCFA 29, 000. I was retailing the same fish at FCFA1, 400 per kilogram but now I am obliged to raise it to FCFA 1,600.
The cost of 60kg of thon fish has suddenly jumped from FCFA 20, 000 to FCFA 27, 000.” Meanwhile, a source in one of the wholesale/retail stores of CONGELCAM that craved anonymity acknowledged there is a shortage in fish supply but noted “we are sure to have more fish in the days ahead.”
He however argues price fluctuation is not arbitrary as some retailers think. We have the wholesale prices displayed on the board outside and retail prices are very visible on every refrigerator. He also refuted allegations that price control agents from the Ministry of Trade permit them to manipulate prices, but sanctions other retailers.
The CONGELCAM staff also pointed out that while they are increasing prices of some fish, they are equally reducing those of some species like Carp, ‘Pelon’, smallsized catfish, among others