OPINION: High Prices Call for Self Imposed Lockdowns

By Denis Jjuuko

The increasing of prices of commodities in Uganda seems to be going on unabated with no clear indication of when they will stabilize. Naturally prices are always quick to rise but take time to go down if they ever at all.

Countries without reserves of any nature, many times simply watch as prices shoot through the roof. When oil prices were rising in the United States, the government decided to release a million barrels every day to ensure constant supplies and control prices that could have risen due to supply issues especially after Russia attacked Ukraine.

The Uganda government could may be go back to distributing money or food to people who need it most if they can do it efficiently. However, in the meantime, it is may be appropriate for Ugandans to self impose lockdowns. Here are some ideas.

Transport is a key cost for business and individuals. Without an effective public transport system, taxis regardless of what their association leaders may have agreed with government can increase rates at any time just like they do when it rains in Kampala. For the “my cars”, fuel is expensive and some stations don’t even have. So controlling movement is one measure of reducing your costs. Only travel if you can’t avoid it. Self imposed movement restrictions is one sure way of reducing your costs.

Virtual meetings/events
During the lockdowns of the last two years, many office workers were working from home. Offices re-opened when the government eased restrictions. But for many workers, transport is a painful cost. As a business owner, you may have to impose restrictions for people coming to work from offices for certain roles which don’t require somebody’s presence in a physical office. Reductions in physical meetings and events is another way to save some money.

We are in the middle (or supposed to be) of the rain season. So you can grow some vegatables in your compound if you have it to reduce food costs. Vegatables grow pretty fast and don’t need much effort. Growing it could also enable you make some “ka” money by selling to your neighbours.

About 40% of the food cooked globally is never eaten. There is a lot of wastage in many homes as a good percentage of the food cooked is never eaten. You may have to impose some restrictions on the amount of food being cooked in your home. So that only the food that will be eaten is prepared instead of throwing it away. But also we don’t have to eat three meals a day. Two could be sufficient! Another way to cut costs.

Social events
Don’t plan for social events in this period such as birthdays unless if you have access to certain resources. If you are to fundraise for your wedding, many of your friends may not be able to contribute or will give very little. You can still do your event with a few people. You can still celebrate your birthday with only members of your household.

Don’t race, plan your journey
Cars even the most fuel efficient ones consume a lot if driven in a certain way. If you accelerate and brake suddenly, they will consume more fuel. If you drive very fast at high revs, the car will consume more fuel.

It is important to plan your journey and avoid movement during heavy traffic hours. For those who have to be in office say at 8.00am, you may have to wake up earlier than usual and leave earlier or later.

Employers can adjust reporting times for some staff to ensure they aren’t stuck in jam for hours. For example instead of opening at 8.00am, offices can open at 9.00am and close at 6.00pm instead of 5.00pm. Employees can also work in shifts that are purposely planned with traffic jam in mind to reduce on fuel costs.

Hybrid /electric vehicles
The government can get involved yet again in the transport sector by bringing in electric vehicles for public transport especially in greater Kampala afterall the ministry of energy now generates a lot of electricity. Already government owns Kiira Motors, so this shouldn’t be so difficult.

Those planning to buy cars can opt for hybrid ones or even electric vehicles. The government simply needs to tax them in a certain way to encourage uptake especially for public transport in the major cities.

The writer is a communication and visibility consultant. djjuuko@gmail.com

Scroll to top