LAHAD DATU: Lahad Datu district is facing an acute shortage of cooking oil in 1kg packets for a few weeks now and there appears to be no sign of any improvement to the situation, even until yesterday.
Consumers here told The Borneo Post that cooking oil packed in plastic packs are also not sold in any of the supermarkets in town.
“Cooking oil packed in big bottles are available but are being sold at a high price and many consumers could not afford to buy them,” said Cik Nong.
She said the shortage was apparent for a few weeks now and cooking oil packed in plastic packs are not available for sale.
According to her, the available cooking oil sold in bigger packaging at the supermarkets is far too expensive and not affordable to the low income consumers.
“We hope the government will look into the present state of affairs immediately and ensure sufficient supply of cooking oil is readily available for the consumers in the district,” she added.
Sabotage by traders and consumers’ greed are among the causes that contributed to the shortage of cooking oil in the one-kg pack in several supermarkets and retail shops in Sabah.
Consumer Affairs and Community Development Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid said on Monday that Felda produced 700 metric tons of cooking oil per month for the needs of consumers in the state.
“But due to sabotage element by the traders who hoard the cooking oil and greed of the consumers to panic buy in excessive quantities, several supermarkets are running out of supplies,” she told reporters.
Meanwhile, a single mother, Beabeanka, 25, said that all the grocery shops and mini-markets in the district do not have any stock of cooking oil in smaller packages.
She said she had been to all the shops in town but could not find any cooking oil in plastic packs and the shelves for cooking oil in such packs were either empty or displaying only cooking oil in 10 kg bottles.
“As the economy is not good now, we need the cooking oil in plastic packs which is cheaper. Unfortunately, these are not available or hard to obtain,” she stressed.
Beabeanka said the cooking oil sold in packets are the cheapest and easily affordable by the people, especially the low income group.
“We hope some action will be taken to ensure there will be ample supply of cooking oil in packs in the supermarkets and grocery shops so that the people will not be burdened into buying exorbitantly priced cooking oil in big bottles,” she lamented, adding that cooking oil in plastic packs cost RM2.50 each while those sold in bottles are selling at above RM23 each.
Another consumer, Sheila, feared that if the shortage of cooking oil in plastic packs continues, their cooking activities would be severely affected.
She said cooking oil is important as it is used to prepare food for her family. Without cooking oil, it is quite difficult to cook the dishes.
Besides that, small-income families find that cooking oil sold in bottles is far too expensive, she added.
Meanwhile, a random survey at a supermarket in the district showed that there is ample stock of bottled cooking oil while the shelves for cooking oil in plastic packs are empty.