Dr Dennis Bright: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 January 2022
Most Sierra Leoneans who have been following the steady rise of NGC in the political theatre of Sierra Leone will recall that since March 2018 we have been monitoring the prices of basic food items in local markets, items such as rice, pepper, oil, onions, Maggi that the poorest of the poor need to prepare a simple meal for the family.
Although Sierra Leoneans complain everywhere that living conditions are worsening every day, it is not easy for them to measure to what extent their condition is deteriorating. These market surveys give an idea of how bad things are for the common man or woman.
Furthermore, we try to estimate the cooking ingredients that will be needed to prepare a meal for a family of four (father, mother and two children) a family size that is admittedly extremely small for typical poor families which tend to be big and extended.
When the cost of a basic daily meal is compared to the minimum wage of a sole breadwinner, we discover that since this Government has been running our lives, a minimum wage earner’s income, if spent on food alone, does not last for long; in fact, in this month of January 2022 when a basic meal for four costs Le 68,000 per day the entire wage of Le 600,000 will last for only 9 days.
So, since the family has other compulsory items to pay for such as rent, transport fares, clothing and medical bills, one can assume that parents and children will have to go without food some days, without bus fare, without light etc.
This is the misery to which our people have been reduced while people in power are spending fiti fata on themselves, callously blind to the sufferings of the poor and stone deaf to their cries. And yet they keep congratulating themselves, for some job well done that only they can see.
As the day of reckoning draws closer, we present to you, once again, our market survey for January 2022. The prices of the food items are compared to the price levels in March 2018.
Between 2018 and 2022, prices have been dancing up and down – year in and year out, but they have always been higher after 2018.
This January, the lowest increase has been the price of a bag of rice which is nearly 50% higher than in March 2018. As everybody knows, some 40,000 metric tonnes of rice have magically appeared at Water Quay just in time for the election campaigns.
Maybe, the expectation is that Sierra Leoneans are fools and will fall for the trick; that they will eat rice until they forget how much they have suffered and repeat their 2018 mistake of voting in the vampires. Time will tell.
But isn’t it crazy that these people who boasted so much for the past three years of their great Tok and Do, soon-to-flood-the-nation Toma Bom rice harvests should be frantically importing rice to feed us fourteen months to the next elections?
Meanwhile, those things that we produce locally appear to be the most expensive: the price of one of the main sources of protein available to the common man, dry bonga fish, has increased by 1100% while peppeh per cup increased by 900% and vegetable plassas per tie costs 300% more than in 2018.
Sadly, some people are more interested in flying up in the air, cooking elections and sacking upright women who are doing their job than rescuing the poor people of this country that are gradually sinking into disgraceful poverty and marrasmus.
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About the author
Dr Dennis Bright is the Chairman and Leader of Sierra Leone’s National Grand Coalition (NGC) Party.