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DW / Lichinga market
Freight trains started running to Lichinga in Mozambique again last month, with inhabitants reporting improved availability of products and lower prices. Others warn that it is too early to celebrate.
The high price of basic necessities has been a constant headache for Mozambicans. Just last year, inflation in the country rose to 25 percent, making life very difficult.
Now, prices are falling slightly and Mozambicans are starting to breathe a sigh of relief. The residents of Lichinga, in the northern province of Niassa, in particular: after a hiatus of seven years, freight trains are once again reaching the town, helping lower food prices, says resident Nelson Baptista.
“Recently, prices of basic products have been falling, now that we the railroad as access road,” he says.
Cipriano Lucas confirms that the arival of the trains is improving the life of Niassa residents. “Many things are coming to Lichinga by train. For a long time, it has been difficult to get rice.”
A 25 kg bag of rice which recently cost around 1300 meticais (about EUR 19) now costs only 800 meticais (EUR 11), and a five-litre bottle has fallen from 530 meticais (just over EUR seven) to 430 meticais (about EUR six).
Expectations of further price declines
According to Lichinga entrepreneur Andilo Jumo, the downward trend in prices has other causes in addition to the resumption of train traffic.
“This started from last month to this month, through transport – the train. But another factor is competition in the markets,” he says.
Analysts in Mozambique have recently been announcing that the worst of the economic crisis has passed. Indicators are improving – the Mozambican currency is more stable and inflation has slowed.
Still, there are residents who say that little has changed – many other products remain expensive. Elvira, another Lichinga resident, is among them.
“The prices of the products are still high. There are some products whose price has gone down, but that is not true for all. For example, sugar is still 65 meticais [about EUR 0.90 euro], and it used to cost 35 meticais [EUR 0.50]. So prices still have to go down, because not everyone can afford sugar,” she says.
Alberto Soares, a member of the Niassa Business Council, also says that prices need to fall further, in some localities especially, if all residents can begin to see changes.
“Rice, soap and oil still cost the same, and that really doesn’t help the population of Niassa,” he says.Source: Deutsche Welle