Gweru – Evading exorbitant charges in their residential areas, Mkoba residents endure long distances to access the city for cheaper commodities.
Resident also say walking gives them less trouble with the police as they are usually made to disembark buses upon explaining their intention to go and buy groceries.
Distance covered range from eight to 13km, in an urban setting where one risks being mugged while taking shortcuts and above all inaccessible to the elderly and disabled.
Residents are blocked amid the fact that shops in town are open to serve clients and at the same time practicing safety measures that help reduce the risk of either contracting or spreading Covid-19.
Mealie-meal, cooking oil and sugar are going for ZW150, ZWD150 and ZWD 100 respectively against retail prices of ZWD 70, ZWD 90 and ZWD 68 in town.
Choppies, the only available big retail shop found in Mkoba 6 is usually characterized by long queues and with restrictions cannot serve big numbers.
“Retailers in our place of residents are charging us too much than we can afford and, in some instances, they are not accepting electronic payments. The black market is even worse as all prices are tagged in USD or money equivalent to the street exchange rate with a 10% top up for charges,” a female resident from Mkoba 17, Fadzai Ndlovu said.
“Exorbitant prices are a burden and we are forced to sneak in to town by foot. It’s better for us the youth though painful as compared to challenges being faced by the elderly and disabled,” added one Benjamin Mushipe of Mkoba 14.
Some locals also allege that people who have been identified as essential services are using their access to town to hoard issues and sell them at exorbitant prices.
“Those with privileges of getting into town are the ones who are hoarding things and sell them to their homes taking advantage of the situation,” revealed Tavonga Zishiri.
The exaggerated prices have even gained the moniker Covid prices