Residents say lack of supervisory control over neighbourhood stores has emboldened them to take customers for a ride.
Many of these outlets, which dot the lanes and by-lanes of the city and have been mushrooming in the suburbs as well, pass on food items that are past their expiry date, particularly to children.
“There is hardly any official monitoring. I haven’t seen a civic inspector visiting some of the neighbourhood stores in our area in the past so many years,” said a resident, asking not to be named.
Many stores are open late into the night and cater to people who urgently need food items like bread or bottled water. Throughout the day, they mainly target children from the neighbourhood who frequent these outlets to buy cold drinks and chocolates.
The situation is worse in remote areas, especially in localities outside Doha, where the inspectors hardly venture.
“These outlets easily pass on expired food items, especially milk and its products, to children”
said Mohamed Saleh, a resident.
On top of it all, their rates are high and since children are innocent and have little idea of the prevailing market rates, they are happy buying canned juices and cold drinks from these outlets, hardly aware that these eatables have outlived their life.
Since most major shopping centres are located within the city limits, smaller stores in remote areas have begun storing vegetables, sandwiches, buckets, garments and even utensils of daily use for sale.
“Since people living in these remote areas cannot go to Doha every time they need something urgently, they buy these things from these smaller outlets. The shops take undue advantage of this and raise rates and provide goods that are of low quality,” said Mohamed Al Hajri, another resident.
Most of the time, aside from children, their victims are low-income workers who fight shy of visiting shopping centres to buy provisions, he said.
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