Nairobi News


Why ship carrying new maize cargo for Sh90 flour failed to dock at port

Shortage of subsidised maize flour could last longer after a ship with 445,000 bags of cheap Mexican grain failed to dock at the Mombasa port.

The vessel, MV Ionic Smyrnt, was expected to dock on Sunday but was Monday evening waiting on the international waters to berth at Grain Bulk Handling Limited (GBHL) facility at the port.

Cereal Millers Association said the steady supply Sh90 maize flour depends on the new cargo amid shortages on shop shelves that have seen consumers the scramble for the cheap staple.

“The vessel has not entered Kenya waters, waiting for space at the GBHL,” said a Kenya Ports Authority official.


The millers said they have been unable to meet the demand for the subsidised flour on reduced supply, terming the 335,000 bags of cheap maize imported on May 9 as inadequate.

The new maize cargo will take up eight days to be transported to the mills and back to shops, a pointer that the shortages will persist until the second week of June.

The cheap maize is the product of a Sh6 billion subsidy would lower the price of a 90-kg bag of maize to Sh2,300 from more than Sh4,000, allowing the two-kg packet of flour to sell for Sh90 compared to the market cost of Sh140.

Rising prices of maize flour and other foodstuffs has become a political headache for President Uhuru Kenyatta as he seeks a second term in August elections.

He is running against Opposition leader Raila Odinga, who has used the high cost of living to portray the government as incompetent.


Retailers found selling the two-kilogramme packet of subsidised maize flour above Sh90 risk a fine of Sh1 million or five-year jail term.

This follows the publication of a gazette notice giving legal backing for State control of sifted maize flour costs and marks the first time the order has been issued under a law passed in 2011 allowing price control of essential goods.

The high cost of food saw inflation jump to 11.48 in April from 10.28 the previous month, taking it beyond the Treasury’s preferred upper limit of 7.5 per cent.