Prince Sunduzani, Business Reporter
FAST food outlets in Bulawayo have increased prices for takeaways, apparently to meet the costs of new packaging following a ban on the use of kaylite by the Environmental Management Agency (EMA) in July.
The development comes as a blow to consumers as it increases the cost of living.
Restaurants such as The Lounge in the central business district are charging an extra $0.50 for those intending to buy takeaway food.
The Chronicle visited food outlets around the CBD and noted that the extra fees range from $0.25 to $0.50.
Restaurant owners told The Chronicle that they are charging more because the new packaging material is expensive.
“We are charging more because the new material is too expensive. We used to buy kaylite for less than $0.10 but the plastic ones are $0.25 so it will be very expensive on our side and it does not make business sense for us to maintain the old prices,” said a manager.
Another one, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Government imposed the ban on them without doing due diligence to find a cheaper alternative.
“Before imposing the ban on us the Government should have consulted the suppliers and other stakeholders in order to provide a more business friendly alternative,” she said.
Some food outlets have resorted to requesting customers to bring their own containers.
“We asked our customers to bring their lunch boxes, but the problem with lunch boxes is that some of them will not be properly washed and if someone gets sick the blame will be put on us. So this is not a favourable alternative,” said a restaurant owner who declined to be named.
In an interview yesterday, Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) regional officer, Mr Comfort Muchekeza said the retailers were being unfair on the consumers as they should be the ones who foot the packaging bill.
“We noted the development that food prices have gone up to cover for the takeaway packaging material. Businesses should be honest and fair to the consumers because when buying, consumers buy the food and not the packaging. So it’s unfair for the retailers to charge customers more for takeaways,” he said.
Mr Muchekeza said there was no law to compel the food outlets not to increase prices, but his organisation will educate consumers so that they can take action.
EMA banned the use of kaylite saying the material is environmentally unfriendly and also causes cancer. Businesses found using the banned material risk a fine of up to $5 000 or one year imprisonment.