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Flower prices up to cover new taxes

Nairobians, who have become accustomed to buying fresh flowers on Valentine Day in the city centre, may be forced to dig deeper into their pockets after the County Government increased Valentine’s Day tents and display tables fees by more than 300 per cent.

Valentine’s Day may as well be one of the most expensive for the city residents as the business people will pass the cost to their clients.

According to the Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Flower Council, Mrs Jane Ngige, the Valentine Day tents and display tables fees have been raised from Sh500 to Sh2,340 and Sh2,925 respectively translating to Sh5,265 a day.

Mrs Ngige said while in the past vendors pitched tents for three days, the few vendors who will afford the high fees will only mount their flowers today only and thus denying lovers a chance to buy their loved ones bouquets early.

“The flower tents have been giving Nairobi a major facelift of beauty on Valentine Day and it is sad that this has been taken away from them,” she said.

According to Mrs Ngige, connecting local people with flowers has been achieved through Valentine’s Day flower tents and this has increased local consumption of the commodity that is largely viewed as an export crop. In the past displaying flowers on the streets has increased sales and created awareness.

The chairman of the vendors, Mr Simon Mwaura, accused the County Government of planning to push them out of streets when they had prepared to do good business.

“These fees are too high and most of our members cannot afford them. This will discourage buyers as the cost is set to rise while others will opt not to celebrate at the CBD,” said Mr Mwaura.

Meanwhile, there was confusion in the city centre after vendors failed to erect their sheds on time saying the county government delayed issuing them with permits.

At Kencom Bus Stage, Bazaar Plaza, Nation Centre and Kenya Cinema there was little to show that lover’s day was here.

Vendors sat next to their tent poles awaiting communication from their colleagues who were camping at City Hall for the permits.

“We usually set up the stands three days prior to Valentine’s Day but these new charges are messing up our timetable,” said Isaac Nganda, a flower vendor who planned to set up at Kenya Cinema.

They managed to set the tents late in the afternoon yesterday.

Additional reporting by Lynet Igadwah