Many consumers in Douala are frustrated with the little they have to pay for alternatives.
The usual hustle and bustle in cool stores for frozen imported and fresh fish have all gone dry. Refrigerators which were full to brim with the products are now near empty except for alternatives like chicken, pork and beef. Many who come to buy the source of vitamin return in disappointment.
The scarcity is more serious in Littoral’s regional capital Douala, where it is depriving many households of the important source of vitamin since the start of December 2017. Though majority sold are frozen imported ones, a good quantity is also fished in Douala’s waters. Youpwe, for example, is a fresh fish market where buyers buy directly from fishermen.
Buyers are mostly hotel and restaurant operators. Many households buy for consumption while others buy coolers of fish to re-sell in retail quantities in neighbourhoods as they go from door-to-door. Whether in cool stores, on tables as sold in markets or on trays by vendors in neighbourhoods, there is a general scarcity. Most of these no longer exist.
Their dealers have simply withdrawn home in apparent disappointment at the shortage that has prolonged to two months today.
Some consumers who lined up to buy the fish at the Douala Central Market were frustrated discovering that the amount of money they used in buying one kilogramme in November is now far little and insufficient. Some who turn to alternatives end up heaving a sigh of disappointment because they cannot purchase them with the little they have. They are grappling with the shortage of fish coupled with an increase in prices. Yabs M., housewife, says the most preferred Makerel is very scarce and expensive.
She says you can spend about two hours on a queue before getting to the point of being served at CONGELCAM Bonaberi, where supplies are also not regular: “Now there is a kind of survival of the fittest among buyers who tussle to get even a minimum of a kilogramme. Even so bulk buyers are rationed with every little supply that becomes available.”
In consequence, a kilogramme of mackerel (big) has moved from FCFA 1,350 to FCFA 1,450 and FCFA 1,300 for smaller mackerel. Fresh tilapia, which is not common in cool stores, and frozen imported ones have skyrocketed.
Cold store dealers buy a carton of 20kg of fresh bar fish from fishermen at FCFA 50,000 and sell at FCFA 60,000 making a profit of FCFA 10,000 and a kiolgramme during retail cost FCFA 3,000.