Sweets in Tea; Lamu residents find alternative amidst sugar shortage

A cup of Tea,Lamu residents have turned to sweets to sweeten tea amidst a crackdown on contraband sugar PHOTO COURTESY

Lamu,KENYA:It’s a sugarless life for residents of Lamu town who now have to heat sweets and use the syrup in their tea due the ongoing crackdown on contraband sugar which has left shelves in the town empty.

There is a serious shortage of sugar in Lamu town and  a spot check by  Baraka FM revealed  that not many shops stock the now out-of reach commodity for fear that it could be be declared contraband and seized by police.

Last week,police seized over 100 bags of contraband sugar worth over Sh.500,000 in various crackdowns in Mpeketoni,Lamu town,Witu,Kiunga and Kizingitini areas.

Lamu county police commander Muchangi Kioi says the crackdown continues for as long as the threat of the existence of contraband sugar and other illicit items still lingers.

Subsequently,shop owners,both wholesalers and retail, have refused to stock sugar in their stores for fear of it being seized as contraband.

Many others have their sugar securely tucked away and have refused to sell it.

The situation is now weighing heavily on the ordinary residents who now have to endure life without sugar as they all used to.

Residents reported that the few retailers who still stock the commodity have taken full advantage of the situation and are selling  it at ridiculously high prices.

A kilo of sugar which would initially retail at between Sh.90-100 is now being sold at between Sh.200 and 250.

Joel Mwalengu,a resident in Lamu town says since he cant afford the expensive sugar,he now has to buy a packet of sweets which has now become their substitute to the sugar since they are affordable.

“There is no sugar at all.Ask around.Maybe two of three people are the ones stocking and they are damn expensive.To make life easy since we are all used to adding sugar to our food,we have turned to sweets since they are cheaper.My wife adds a few pieces of the sweets to tea and other foods we use.Its not the best option but its better than nothing,”said Mwalengu.

Locals now want the government to intervene so that life can go back to being normal and bearable for all.

Others now say they have had to adapt uncomfortable lifestyles since the sugar shortage kicked in.

Granton Hinzano says his family has to endure a not so pleasant breakfast of salted porridge since the sugar is now out of their reach.

“You walk into a shop here and ask for sugar and the shopkeeper stares at you as if you are asking for the impossible.My family now has to take porridge and add salt.Tea is way beyond our reach now,”said Hinzano.

One of the retailers in Lamu town Peter Jillo said he no longer stocks sugar citing frustrations from police.

“Since the contraband crackdown started,now every sugar has become contraband.They see sugar in your shop they take it and arrest you.To make life easy for myself,I don’t stock sugar anymore.We have to wait until this issue dies down but for now life is as sugarless as can be,”said Jillo.