Since President Akufo-Addo announced the partial lockdown of the Greater Accra and Ashanti regions, people decided to stock up on food.
This was despite the president’s assurance that the lockdown would not affect market women who sell food items and goods would also be allowed to be transported into the locked regions.
However, as people thronged to the market to stock up on food, a basic economic theory took effect.
More demand meeting less supply, resulting in the increase of prices – this economic principle is true in markets where prices are fixed by the forces of demand and supply and not a market regulator.
In our Ghanaian markets, prices are not controlled by the state or the regulator – it is purely by demand and supply.
So early on Friday morning, one ‘olonka’ of Gari was selling for GHS 8. After the president’s speech on Friday night, the price of the same quantity of Gari more than doubled to GHS 20, others even bought it at a price of GHS 25.
However, this is not really a new occurrence in Ghana.
Most of you reading this now may not have been around in 1983 and 1984 when Jerry John Rawlings was a military leader in Ghana.
There was hunger in Ghana, and merchants and retailers had deliberately hoarded food items so they could sell them at the highest price possible.
We’ve heard stories of how military leader JJ Rawlings allowed his boys to forcefully take these items and sell them at a much lower price to Ghanaians who needed them.
Though most of us did not witness it, they were quick to call for such same action last Saturday and Sunday.
Some social media users even apologised to the former president, claiming they now understand why he had to take such actions.
It was a necessary evil for the greater good.Some social media users said.
It was quite clear that the situation we are currently facing with coronavirus in terms of prices of essential food items has become the ultimate retelling of JJ Rawlings’ history through the perspective of some of the young people of today.
Most of them had only formed an opinion (negative or positive) about JJ Rawlings based on stories told by others and not their own lived experiences.
Without living through that period to fully appreciate the nuances of the time, social media users believed price-fixing was the way to go last weekend.
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