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Stall owners protest against fish selling offices’ practices

‘Fish sold outside market at higher rate’

KUWAIT CITY, July 25: “The matter has exceeded the limit. We can no longer bear it. They cut our livelihoods. We have no option before us than to protest against their purchases”.

This is the statement of the owners of stalls in Sharq Fish Market who found succor and haven in “Al-Rai” to air the rage in their chests toward the offices that sell fish, reports Al- Rai daily.

For the first time in the history of Sharq Market, a large group of stall owners announced a strike and abandoned the market leaving the fish in their place, in protest against the act of selling the fish outside the market at high prices. It is also forbidden for the stall owners to check the fish cartons before purchase, indicating the fish are to be sold to them blindly.

The truth is: the confrontation was fierce and strong, as owners of the stalls accused owners of the offices of conspiring against them and selling different sizes of cartons from the declared ones at high prices equal to or exceeding the price sold to consumers, according to decisions issued by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which means cutting their livelihoods completely and bringing the curtain down on making reasonable profits from this profession.

At a time when some office owners responded by saying that any buyer could check the carton and inspect it and then return the fish in case it’s in violation of the specification, the angry sellers’ response to the words was complete and detailed.

They affirmed that fish inside the cartons remains a stroke of luck, indicating small sizes are mixed with large ones to achieve huge profits at their expense. They stated that local and even imported Al-Zubaidi fish are not sent to the market, except in very rare quantities, as they are sold outside the market at high prices and only the small ones arrive inside the market. They reaffirmed that quantities received daily range between 1.5 and 2 tons, while shrimp rarely appear “and if found, they’re in small sizes, of which a basket is sold between 150 and 160 dinars while the jumbo size is sold outside the market”.

They pointed out that cheating lies in mixing the sizes and prices where fish sold for 3 dinars per kilogram is displayed with fish priced at 5 dinars per kilo to compensate for the cost and defraud buyers, despite the presence of oversight from all concerned authorities, including Kuwait Municipality, Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, which do not allow any laxity in prices or sizes.

They stated the complaint is not specific to one office but general, and it appears that they have reached an agreement on this step. In the event that a complaint is submitted to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, hell may be unleashed and they will refuse to sell to the stall owners the following day under the pretext of having problems, stressing the offices do not comply with Trade Price Regulations. They accused the offices of earning thousands of dinars from “tampering” and blamed them for inciting the fish crisis in Kuwait.

They demanded the withdrawal of their licenses and urged for the creation of a special office affiliated to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to carry out sales operations. They commended the role played by the ministry in listening to them and understanding their complaints and grievances toward protecting public interests. Some owners of the stalls indicated they were forced to buy the cartons without checking what was inside, indicating the cartons included spoilt fish weighing 7 kg and had sizes forbidden to be sold, according to the instructions of Public Authority for Agricultural Affairs and Fish Resources.

They lamented, “Some of us have not bought fish for 4 days and are committed to rents, while the specter of losses and irregularities hangs over us.” “Some owners of the stalls said the problem lies in the offices resorting to hidden fraud, which appears as soon as the carton is opened, such that big sizes are mixed with the small, while the large sizes are sold in the parallel market”, they stressed, noting “ there is a clear agreement between the offices, companies, associations, and commercial centers, selling a carton of fish at KD50, higher than the market price, and in quantities the buyer wants, whether 100 or 200 cartons. The door is wide open for it”.

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