By Uchenna Ugwu
Abakaliki, May 6, 2021 Traders in essential commodities in Abakaliki, the Ebonyi capital, are lamenting the soaring prices of food items which have affected patronage as Muslims prepare for Eid-el-Fitr festival.
Naija247news reports that traders selling various foodstuffs such as rice, beans, goats, tomatoes, vegetable oil and palm oil are lamenting.
A survey by Naija247news on Wednesday in Abakaliki at the popular Kpirikpiri and Margaret Umahi International markets showed that most traders were not happy over the development and slow business.
Mrs Ijeoma Elom, a dealer in rice, said the rise in prices and low patronage were worrisome and attributed the situation to the harsh economic situation in the country, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, the EndSARs protests and the general insecurity in the land.
On the price of local rice, Elom said a 50kg bag of the highest grade is being sold for between N24,000 and N25 000, as against N19,600 and N20,000 in February and March respectively depending on the grade.
“We have different brands like Mass, 306, CP, among others. 50kg bag of 306 cost between N20,000 and N22,000 as against and N18,000 and N19,000 in March,” Elom said.
Mrs Monica Igele, meat seller said beef and goat meat now cost N2, 400 per kilogramme, as against the N1,400 per kilogramme they were sold in February.
“Our customers are not comfortable with the high cost and this is affecting patronage.
“We bought a live goat for N25,000 in March but now it is now sold for N30, 000 and above,” Igele said.
Mr Usman Jabbo, Chairman, Goat Dealers Association Ebonyi, stated that sellers were not responsible for the high cost of food items in the state.
Jabbo blamed the development on the multiple taxes foodstuff dealers pay on the highways while transporting their goods.
He said that expenses on the highway arising from the activities of revenue agents were outrageous.
He also lamented the numerous police checkpoints on roads at which money is extorted from transporters.
Jabbo said to transport a goat from Taraba to Ebonyi state would cost N3,000 per goat or more while cow will cost N20, 000 per head.
“A goat sells for between N27,000 and N35,000 depending on the size,’’ he said.
He appealed to the Federal Government to call the numerous revenue collectors to order because the taxes they collect have compounded the plight of traders and the public.
Mrs Christiana Nwali, who deals in tomatoes, pepper and onions, decried the rise in the cost of the produce and attributed it to the harsh economy.
Nwali urged the Federal and State governments to implement a policy that would tackle the rise in the prices of food commodities.
She said that a big basket of tomatoes was sold for between N19,800 and N22, 000, against N15,000 and N18, 000 in February.
Mr Celestine Nwabuike, who sells babies wear, said that business has been difficult as she is experiencing low patronage and an increase in the prices of the items.
“It is a very difficult situation now,” she stated.
Nwabuike appealed to the three tiers of government to intervene in the astronomical increases in the prices of all household items.
A cross section of other traders said sales had been very unimpressive, while others decried their inability to stock enough goods in their shops because of poor capital and insecurity.