Bakers on strike in Brikama
Monday, September 22, 2008
Bakers in Brikama and its environs are currently on a sit-down strike after a confrontation with the police concerning an immediate reduction in the price of bread, the Daily Observer has reliably gathered.
According to sources, it had been discovered by the police that some bakers were selling a loaf of bread at D5, prompting the intervention of the Brikama Police.
When this reporter visited some bakeries in Brikama and its environs, on Saturday, the majority of the bakers he spoke to described the price reduction demanded by the police as a threat to their business. A baker at Brikama Nyambai told the Daily Observer that he buys a bag of flour at nine hundred dalasis. He indicated that considering the cost of labour, fire wood and other ingredients used in the process, any move to reduce the price of bread would jeopardize their business.
The unfortunate development resulted in an acute shortage of bread in Brikama, especially among the Muslim community, in the face of the Holy Month of Ramadan. People are said to be commuting to Serekunda to get bread.
As expected, many people described the occurrence as outrageous, some calling it "unislamic". A shopkeeper at Kuloro said: "I do not dispute the price of the bread, but rather the size". He thinks the size of bread in the area is very small.
But another baker in Brikama said that it was not their wish to keep the Muslim community starving, they were only concerned about the impact of any reduction on their business.
However, many consumers accused the bakers of making huge profits out of their suffering. They argued that even if the price of bread was reduced and the size increased, the bakers would make an appreciable amount of profit. "This is out of greediness and lack of mercy for the people," one consumer said.
Some people have said that the bakers should be allowed to continue with their businesses until after the Ramadan, when such a situation might inflict less harm on the consumers.
"I consume only bread when breaking my fast, and since the sit-down strike started, I have been taking rice which gives me stomachache," said one consumer.
A Mauritanian shopkeeper in Brikama said: "We cannot be blamed for the high cost of a bag of flour, because no one would want to start their business only to run into failure". And he posited: "The fact is that some bakers are too greedy and have little consideration for their consumers".
Generally, however, consumers are appealing to the police to allow the bakers to go on with their businesses until after the month of Ramadan, as most people depend on bread during the month. Efforts to have the authorities at the Brikama Police Station to comment on the issue remained futile as the station officer was reported to have been out of the office.
Author: by Amadou Jallow