Eket (Akwa Ibom) – Mr Adele John, a firewood dealer in Ibeno, Akwa Ibom says the scarcity of kerosene in the country has heightened the demand for firewood and increased pressure on forest resources.

He said in Ibeno at the weekekend that it was becoming increasingly difficult for him and other firewood dealers in the area to meet the high demand for firewood.

John noted with regret that there were no plans by the state government to plant trees to replace the ones felled by log vendors and people looking for firewood for cooking.

He said: “I have been in the firewood business for quite some time, and when we started, we didn’t have to go far into the bush to get firewood.

“So many illegal activities are taking place in the forest now, and that makes one to go very far into the bush to get firewood.”

John said the unhealthy situation was adversely affecting the forest, with more trees being felled daily, adding that “if things continue like this, there will soon be no trees to protect the environment, especially along the coastline”.

He said that the inconveniences involved in getting wood in the bush, including the cost of carrying it to the market had accounted for the increase in the price of the commodity.

John added that the price of wood had risen further following increased demand for it, occasioned by kerosene scarcity being experienced across the country.

“Scarcity of kerosene has made more people to take to firewood for cooking, and this is pushing the price up.

“Even with the high price, the demand for wood is still high, and some people even pay in advance or book ahead, and at times we have problems of meeting demand,” he added.

The dealer said that a piece of firewood which used to sell at N20 in the area, was now being sold at N150 “and people are still rushing for it and making us to go more into the bush to get wood”.

He said that the regular customers were bakers and women who used wood to dry fish, but added that “now, almost every home uses firewood”.

John noted that the high cost of firewood had not deterred the people who had resorted to the commodity for domestic cooking, preferring it to kerosene.

“Housewives who use firewood say that any food cooked with wood tastes better than the one cooked with kerosene stove,” he said.

He appealed to the government to “make kerosene available to the people, so as to discourage excessive cutting of trees”. (NAN)

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