The new rules were supposed to balance bakers staying in business with Adenis going hungry
In Aden, price controls on bread force some bakers to close, others to cheat
Bakeries in Yemen’s southern port city of Aden received some seemingly good news on Jan. 23, when the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the interim capital announced new requirements on the price and weight of a traditional bread known as rooti.
In an update to 2018 regulations, which required bakeries to charge 20 Yemeni riyals for individual loaves of rooti weighing 57 grams, the government now allows bakers to sell smaller loaves (52 grams) for the same price.
The new rules, designed to help bakers stay in business while making the staple affordable for families struggling to eat in Aden's economic crisis, have been met with mixed reactions.
The owner of one bakery in Khormaksar district decided to close down because the government concessions weren’t enough to stay in business, according to a former employee. For many bakers, the rapid rise of commodity prices in Aden has made it almost impossible to adhere to the new regulations.
A worker at another bakery in Khormaksar's Al-Sa’ada neighborhood said the owner of the business defied the new directive and raised the price of a single loaf of rooti to 30 riyals.
In the past week, the government has fined bakers who haven't complied with the new regulations in several districts, including six in Sheikh Othman, three in Mansoura and five in Seera, according to Ahmed Swaileh, manager of the consumer protection authority in Aden. For some bakers, it's worth it to continue paying fines (or bribes) for breaking the rules.
Aden’s government has asked the World Food Program to provide bakers with flour to stabilize the market, said an official in the office of the deputy minister of Industry and Trade.