PETALING JAYA: The town of Ranau, located near Mount Kinabalu, appears to be running out of cooking oil, according to The Daily Express.
The Sabah paper reported how it had followed up on complaints from consumers in the heartland of Dusun country and found it to be true.
Checks with a number of supermarkets and mini markets, including Milimewa, Sabindo, 99Speedmart and Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia showed that stocks of cooking oil were running low or had already run out.
District assistant consumer affairs officer Halimin Siping said that he had requested for 400 cartons of the 1kg packets of cooking oil for Ranau, adding that supply should be in soon.
“We are also discussing with the relevant authorities to create a mini stockpile of cooking oil. Besides that, we have also applied for additional quota for the west coast,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Express.
Halimin believes these moves will help control supply in the market.
He conceded, however, that the domestic trade, cooperatives and consumerism ministry is having challenges in trying to regulate the supply of cooking oil to the west coast of Sabah.
“There is currently only one supplier, a repacker at the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park, who is providing cooking oil to the west coast, the interior and Labuan. The particular repacker has a monthly quota of 215 metric tonnes.
“This has forced us to seek additional supplies from Sandakan,” Halimin told the daily, adding that the alternative arrangement involves higher transportation costs.
The problem in controlling supply, he said, was created by small and medium enterprises (SMEs), including restaurants, also using the subsidised cooking oil in packets, although they were not eligible.
He expects prices of food to rise once the ministry can prevent the SMEs using cooking oil in packets.
Meanwhile, another issue is that most retailers and certain bulk distributors are not licensed to trade-in controlled goods.
“This makes it harder for them to supply cooking oil, for example. They fear not being able to recover payments on subsidised items,” he said.
Milimewa Superstore Ranau manager Alvin Tanus was quoted as saying that he has only olive oil at the moment.
“The shortage of cooking oil started before Christmas,” he told Daily Express.
He added that orders were placed for cooking oil before Christmas but there has been no supply as yet. “Perhaps the lorry drivers are still on leave.”
Still, he was “baffled” why the supply of cooking oil was always “cut off”.
“From the two suppliers, one each in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, we get 50 to 100 cartons of plastic packets of cooking oil,” he said.
According to Daily Express, there are 26 cooking oil repackers throughout Sabah, with 16 in Sandakan, Tawau (7), Lahad Datu (2) and Kota Kinabalu (1).-FMT