Since the announcement of the first confirmed case of the Covid-19 in Kenya three weeks ago, uncertainty descended upon consumers, sparking panic buying of commodities ranging from essential foodstuff to protective gears such masks, gloves and sanitisers.
The sudden demand for the goods resulted in a price rally for some, especially sanitisers, surgical spirit and masks.
However, the government while citing the market forces for the high prices pledged to intervene and ensure that the essential goods are not costly specifically through mass production of sanitisers.
So far, the efforts have borne some fruit even though sanitisers and protective gear such as masks available in the market are still expensive for ordinary Kenyans. Besides the medical sector, the latest entrant into the price-fixing bandwagon is the cooking gas retailers.
Unscrupulous dealers have taken advantage of the high demand as consumers stay at home to raise the cost of refilling the fuel that households, especially in urban areas largely depend on for domestic cooking.
The move is selfish at a time when the cost of the liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) are expected to fall after the global price of crude oil hit a two-decade low.
The regulator says it is investigating and would withdraw licences of the traders implicated in the manipulation of the LPG prices in the market.
This is welcome but we urge regulators in other sectors to crack down of businesses that are taking advantage of the pandemic to profiteer.
Traders should realise that the pandemic has worsened the economic situation of many households after some breadwinners have to contend with pay cuts or leave without pay and in some cases have lost gainful employment following the closure of some businesses.
We condemn such heartless businesses that are dancing on the grave of Kenyan consumers.
The pandemic still offers many opportunities for entrepreneurs to tap the mass market in efforts to battle the pandemic without necessarily exploiting the consumers.