May 27, 2024

Epileptic power supply: lce-block sellers now take to freezing chemicals


Nigerians have now come to terms with the various disruptions in the nation’s economy and are focused on immediate solutions for survival.

This has been the lot of many businesses, and even the ice sellers are not left out.

Many people who deal in selling raw frozen food products have either embraced smoking, frying or drying as preservation alternatives, due to the epileptic power supply in the country. But the iced block sellers cannot do without power.

Economy&Lifestyle discovered that most iced block sellers now use freezing chemicals to produce ice.
Mrs. Fausat Tijani, an iced block seller, disclosed that she uses chemicals for immediate production of her blocks.

She added: “Many iced block sellers do this but will never tell you the name of the chemical they use because it is business and meant to be personal.

“When I started this business, electricity in this area was better but now, we hardly have light. We heard, recently, about this band sharing thing. But we are not gaining from it at all. At the end of each month, they present us with heavy bills for something we hardly use.

“This was part of the reason I resorted to using chemicals for production.

“Most people who buy my blocks of ice use them to cool drinks, especially hawkers in traffic jams and the roadsides.

“A little amount of the chemical can produce about 100 blocks within 10 minutes.
“The chemical is not harmful.

“I use liquid nitrogen, salt and water as a freezing agent.

“I mix them properly and put my water for ice in nylons which I pour inside the mixture. Within 10 to 15 minutes the blocks of ice are formed and ready for sale.

“This is the method most iced block sellers are using now as many have left the business due to this electricity problem.”

Mr. Emmanuel Peters, an air-conditioner and refrigerator repairer noted that using chemicals to make ice has been in existence but the continuous decline in electricity distribution has forced many to embrace the process.

He explained that there are various types of cooling agents in air-conditioners and refrigerators.
“We have R-407C, R-410A, and R-134a.

“But those people make ice with chemical use freezing agents like liquid nitrogen, hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, salt and water.

“These chemicals are very harmful and not to be used in anything that goes to the stomach.

“Not only is it being used by local iced block sellers, some ice cream sellers use such methods to freeze ice creams.”

Mrs. Opeyemi Mautin, a soft drink and bottle water wholesale seller, noted that the block of ice made using chemicals does not stay longer because it melts quickly.

“There is a difference between the ice generated using electricity and that made using freezing chemicals.

“That electricity stays longer like up to 2 hours but the one made with chemical doesn’t stay up to an hour.

“But you can hardly get a block of ice made of electricity, talk less of getting it at a cheap price.

“If you go to supermarkets you will get it at N700 to N1,000. Before, a block of ice was sold for as low as N200.

“The chemical made ones are sold for N400 to N500 per pack.

“So most people go for it because it is cheaper and we don’t have any choice to complain as there is no steady electricity to run our business.”

Recently, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission approved an increase in electricity tariff for customers under the Band A classification.

Customers are now classified under various bands from A to E.

NERC’s Vice-Chairman, Musliu Oseni, said customers under Band A classification, who receive 20 hours of electricity supply daily, will pay N225 per kilowatt (kW) from N66 per kW starting from April 3.
Band A customers are those who enjoy 20-24 hours of electricity supply daily, while Band B enjoy 16-20 hours, Band C enjoy 12-16 hours, Band D enjoy 8-12 hours and Band E enjoy only 4-8 hours.