By Our Reporters
Nigerians are battling with the prospect of a bleak Christmas and New Year season, as the rise in prices of food items and transport fares worsened across the country.
Vanguard survey in Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan, Abeokuta, Owerri, Akwa, Enugu and Umuahia showed a significant increase in prices of food items and transport fares, worsened by the rising demand caused by preparation for the yuletide. Vanguard survey in Lagos on selected foods revealed higher prices Month-on-Month, MoM, for vegetable oil and palm oil, yam, egg and tomatoes, except for plantain (ripe and unripe) and beans, whose prices declined on a MoM basis.
The price for a tuber of yam rose by 25 per cent to N1,500 from N1,200 in November.
Similarly, the price of one bottle (75cl) of palm oil rose by 14 per cent to N800 from N700 in November, while 5 litres of palm oil rose by 7.12 per cent to N4,500 from N4,300 in November.
Price of one medium size egg rose by 27 per cent to N70 from N55 in November, while the price of a crate of medium size egg rose by 13 per cent to N1,700 from N1,500 in November.
Traders interviewed by Vanguard attributed the rise in prices of food items, especially tomatoes to higher demand for foodstuffs, and the rise in transport fare due to Yuletide induced traffic gridlocks.
Speaking to Vanguard, a tomatoes seller at Igando market, Yetunde said four pieces of medium size tomatoes is N200, adding: “A medium size basket of tomatoes is sold for N25,000 which was N13,000 the previous week.
“Everything is expensive due to increased transport fare and low farm produce coupled with higher demand especially this Yuletide.”
Vanguard Market Survey showed that the price of different brands of vegetable oil rose during the period.
In an interview with a vegetable oil trader at the Igando market, Madam Mary, noted that the price of popular brand of vegetable oil such as Kings, which used to be between N16,000 to N17,000 for 25 litres about four months ago had risen to N27,000 for 25 liters and to N5200 for 5 liters from N4,300.
She noted that other top brands had risen to a range of N8,000 to N25,000 for 5 liters.The survey revealed that the prices of different types of beans reduced to N2,500 from N3,000 for a paint of 5kg.
A beans seller at Agboju market, Festac, Lagos, Mr. Abdul, said the prices which used to be N3,500 for a paint bucket came down because this was the season of beans, adding,
“Though there are not much changes but we believe it will still come down because this is the season.”Another beans seller, who simply identified herself as Rose in the same market, said: “This is harvest time for beans, the price of popular beans like honey beans have reduced.”She noted that with the availability of other variety of beans, the market price for honey beans has reduced and people can buy more now.
“The price of white beans is now N2,400 while a Derica is N500.”Similarly, the prices of plantain reduced during the period.
“Mrs. Maryam, a plantain seller, at the same market, said a bunch of plantain now sells for N1,500 to N2,000 depending on the size compared to N3,000 to N4,000 it sold for three to four months ago.
“She attributed the price reduction to the harvest season.Also, an egg sellers in the same market told Vanguard that the prices of different sizes of egg have been on the increase since the outbreak of COVID-19”.
An egg seller who spoke to Vanguard, Mary, noted that many poultry farmers shut down their farms due to the increase in prices of feeds which started during the Covid-19 lockdown.
She said since then, the prices have continued to go up. Transport fares increaseThe survey also revealed that the Yuletide caused a significant increase in fares paid by passengers for bus, air, and motorcycle journeys.
Vanguard investigations revealed that the average fare paid by air passengers for specified routes stood at N51,491 during the period.
This represents a 39 per cent increase when compared with the N37,022 reported by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, in its transport fare watch for November. The average fare paid by commuters for intercity bus journey stood at N3,000 during the period.
This represents a 13.8 per cent increase when compared with the N2,634 reported by NBS in its transport fare watch for November.
The average fare paid by commuters for journeys by motorcycle per drop stood at N500 during the period.
This represents a 58 per cent increase when compared with the N316.13 reported by the NBS in its transport fare watch for November.
A survey in major markets across Abuja, the nation’s capital, showed that prices of perishable items increased, when compared to the prices a few months back. The survey showed that the hike was caused by the fall in food production due to insecurity in parts of the country and the high cost of transportation.
A rice seller at Mpape Market, Wali Bakano, attributed the increase in the price of rice to high demand for rice ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations. At Kabusa market, the price of a 50kg bag of rice formerly sold for between N22,000 and N24,000, is now sold at N28,500 and N31,000, respectively.
At Dei-Dei Tomato Market, a basket of tomatoes formerly sold between N8,000 and N10,000 now sell between N13,000 and N15,000, while a basket of onions formerly sold between N600 and N700 is now N2,000 and N2,300Vincent Chiemezie, who sells food spices at Lugbe ultra-modern market, said that the prices of condiments may never crash after the Christmas and New Year celebrations.
Chiemezie said: “We can observe some improvement in the market as regards sale of food items because of the yuletide, but the rate of improvement we are seeing is yet to match the levels we witnessed in the 2020 Christmas season.
“Many customers are complaining of not having enough money to spend on food, and our biggest fear is that as prices of foodstuff rise, they seldom fall.”
Mrs Vera Ajaga, a customer at the same market, who came to buy tomatoes, said that towards the Christmas period, prices of food items were always on the increase.Ajaga called on the government to subsidize the price of basic food items, such as rice, tomatoes, and pepper among others to make them affordable to customers at all times.
The survey in market in Ibadan, Oyo State, revealed that the prices of foodstuffs, which showed marginal increases during the last Sallah celebration, have increased further almost beyond the reach of the average Nigerian.
However, traders complained of low patronage. Respondents that spoke to Vanguard, attributed the hikes to high transportation cost, high inflation rate, poor economy and the lack of disposable income.
Some of them believed that the festive season provides an opportunity for traders to make huge profits, maximise profit, necessitating the price hikes. Some commodities that witnessed noticeable increases, include chicken, rice, vegetable oil, onions, pepper and other cooking ingredients.
At the popular Bodija international market in Ibadan, a bag of parboiled rice, which hitherto sold for between N25,000 and N27, 000, now sells for between N28,000and N30,000, while a gallon of vegetable oil which before now sold for N24,000 is now N28,500.
Similarly, a gallon of palm oil which sold for N24,000 now costs between N25,600 in wholesale price, while retail price sells for N27,200 market price.
Other cooking seasonings such as Maggie which used to sell for N500 per pack is now being sold at 800 per pack
While an average live chicken sells for between N5,000 and maximum of N8,000 depending on the size. According to Rashidat Oladele, a trader at the market, the demand for chicken and other foodstuffs was usually high during festive periods such as Christmas and the New Year.
A basket of tomatoes now sells for between N16,000 and N20,000 depending on the types.
To cushion the effect of the high cost of foodstuffs and other items, the Oyo State Government had promised to pay 13th-month salary to workers in its employ immediately after the Christmas festivity in addition to their regular monthly salary which had been paid as of December 17.
Few days to the Christmas and New Year festivals, prices of food items have skyrocketed.