Traders in some markets in Lagos State have lamented the blockade of food items from the northern part of the country, noting that it is affecting their business.
The traders also said following the blockade, they are forced to sell their items to customers at an increased rate as they are forced to buy such items from suppliers at double the initial price.
Last week, the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) began a strike and stopped its members stop the movement of food items from the North to the South as a result of the failure of the government to meet their demands, which include payment of N475 million compensation for the destruction of lives and property during the #EndSARS protest and last month’s crisis in Shasha, Oyo State.
The action meant that truck drivers who bring in onions, pepper, and other commodities were prevented from leaving Niger State to the southern part of the country.
The traders, who spoke to Newsbreak on Wednesday, admitted that the increase in prices of food of items is caused by the blockage of foodstuff to the south by AUFCDN members.
Danladi Shehu, an onion seller at Mile 12 International Market, said a bag of onion which was sold for N14,000 before the strike now cost sN20,000.
He also lamented the lack of patronage.
“Since you got here, no one has bought anything. We are just playing away. The people from the north have refused to bring market for us. Before the end of February, a bag of onions was between N13,000 and N14,000. Now, the cheapest you can get it is N19,000. The general price now is N20,000,” he said.
Mohammed Maikano, who also sells tomatoes at Mile 12 market, disclosed that a basket was sold for N35,000 on Tuesday.
He said the price has now crashed to between N27,000 and N25,000.
“Yesterday, a basket was N35,000. No market from Arewa. But today, we thank God, it has come down to N27,000 or N25,000 depending on the size and freshness of the tomato.
“I think the price will continue to fall. The people in the north are holding meeting so that they can begin to bring food to Lagos, Ogun and Oyo again,” he stated.
Lawal Ali, who also sells tomato and onion at Iponri Market in the Surulere area of the state, also said he had to buy a basket of tomato for N25,000 and a bag of onion for N35,000 respectively.
He also explained that he had to increase the unit price he sells to customers by double to recoup his investment.
“Yes, I have to increase prices because if you buy costly, you have to sell costly in order to get your money back. For example, I used to sell a plate of tomato for N200, but as this thing started I sell it for N500. A plate of onion before was N500 last week but now I sell it for N800,” he said.
Cattle dealers and meat sellers also complained about the situation, noting that it has led to a lack of supply and also a sharp rise in the price of beef.
Murtala Azeez, a meat seller at Iponri Market, explained that his colleagues, who he said joined forces to buy cows, had to cough out as high as N700,000 to buy a single cow, which was sold for N300,000 as of last week.
He noted that he also had to increase the unit price he sells to customers.
“Before, we used to buy one cow in the market for N300,000, but now we bought one for about N500,000-N700,000. It is difficult for us (butchers) to contribute money to buy one cow. Even people that used to buy one cow alone before now have to join money with other people to buy.
“For a kilo, I used to sell before for N1,500, but now I sell N2,500 per kilo. I don’t sell N50 meat again since the price increased, even N100 own I’m just managing to sell it,” he said.
Alhaji Suleiman Abo, the Vice Chairman of the cattle dealers at Sabo Market, Ikorodu, also lamented the situation.
He said: “You can see for yourself. I sold a cow for N800,000 yesterday to a customer. Usually, that cow should not cost more than between N250,000 and N300,000. No market from the north. We heard they are talking to them to call off the strike. Hopefully, we will hear good news soon. For now, cow market is a no-go area because there is no supply.”
Wasiu Ayinla told Newsbreak that prior to the blockade, meat sellers at the Iyana-Oba market in the Ojo Local Government Area of the state slaughter close to 25 cows per day, but the number of cows slaughtered have reduced to 15 cows and sometimes 10 recently.
Another trader who sells tiger nuts, dates, dried zobo leaves and potatoes at Iyana-Oba market, who identified himself simply as Awalu, said his colleagues who bring in goods from Zaria in Kaduna, Kano State and Maiduguri in Borno State have not been able to leave Lagos due to the order given by the AUFCDN.
“Because of the fight, those bringing goods from Zaria, Kano and Maiduguri we have not seen them since last week, now prices have gone up.
“Now a derica of tiger nuts which sells for N350 before is now N500. Also, potatoes, before we sell at N1,700 now N5000. A bag of cabbage before was N6,000 now, it has gone up to N17,000 while a small bag of carrots which was N6,000 is now N14,000,” he said.
Bello Usman, Chairman of the Mile 12 market, admitted to Newsbreak that although the blockage of bringing food items to Lagos affected traders, the market is now active with commercial activities.
Usman, who said he is a member of AUFCDN, however, kicked against the decision to stop bringing food items to the south.
“I am a strong member of Amalgamated Foodstuff, Farm and Cattle Dealers in Nigeria. A strong member. But I’ve told them my position. Something happened in Oyo State, Ibadan. Four state governors from the north came, the Sultan of Sokoto attended to everybody, that we should remain calm and allow them to resolve the issue and see how it goes.
“The Kano State governor donated about N18.5 million. There was absolutely no reason to embark on strike without going back to these people who cane to resolve the issue,” he said.