Ramadan without a government [Archives:2008/1190/Opinion]

September 15 2008

Najeeb Al-Ghurbani
Farmers and laborers are extremely engaged in finding ways to provide subsistence for their families, while the government and opposition are very busy in constitutional amendments and useless speeches. Both the government and opposition leave us in trouble, while Friday remains the same Friday and the sermon remains the same sermon.

Suddenly without any indicators, Ramadan, the holy month of worship and forgiveness, is upon us. And because the government is unable to do anything in Ramadan -or any other month of the year- with regard to fighting the phenomenon of price hikes, irresponsible tradesmen with no consideration for the significance of the holy month have flooded the local markets with expired foodstuffs and other perished commodities.

One day I went to a pharmacy to buy Cerelak milk for my baby girl, and was shocked to find out that this commodity was no longer available. On the street however, I found that large quantities of the expired commodity were being sold. Those who were selling them also offered honey, milk and dates.

The local markets are excessively flooded with expired foodstuffs while citizens, seemingly suffering from malnutrition, anemia and severe poverty, rush to purchase the lot. Those who buy these expired goods are limited-income citizens, farmers, laborers and marginalized people whose living standards have deteriorated due to poor policies that only encourage corruption to become rampant and poverty to become more severe.

Where are the oversight authorities and agencies concerned with product specifications and quality control? Where is the Consumer Protection Authority? Not one of these parties monitors expired commodities sold by vendors in the streets of our capital and other cities nationwide.

It is not acceptable for citizens to receive Ramadan with expired or fake commodities. Why does the good government not realize the daily risk of disease to citizens? Yemeni citizens are consuming trafficked pesticides and cancerous substances in food that has remained in stores until becoming unusable.

The Yemeni popular markets have turned into a landfill for waste disposal, especially as goods on the market contravene even the simplest international specifications followed in the rest of the world. The government approves the mechanism of free market, while vendors exploit this concept to replace it by chaos.

Street vendors exploit the government's inability to arrest or question tradesmen, even those who have already been charged with monopolizing goods or smuggling them illegally into our homeland. They also exploit poor awareness on the part of citizens, who never check the dates of production and expiry on cans or boxes of products.

The government doesn't feel ashamed to say that it has many oversight committees to monitor foodstuffs in local markets. The government doesn't feel ashamed that it has no specific laws to govern the process of importing foreign products into the country.

It is ridiculous to see that citizens are living in a territory without law and order, particularly as their own government continues to sponsor irresponsible tradesmen who create multiple crises with negative impacts on citizens' living conditions.

The shame is on a government that has proved unable to monitor or control what is taking place in the local market. The ordinary citizen has become a victim of his own government. Ramadan Karim and acceptable fasting for the ordinary citizen! In order to be healthier, the government should fast by refraining from corruption and the embezzlement of public funds.