The announcement of fuel subsidy removal by the Federal Government which immediately triggered a hike in the prices of petroleum products with its ripple effects on other facets of the country’s economy has hit hard on traders. The situation at Eke Awka Market in the capital city of Awka is not different as the traders are lamenting the effects of the development.
The traders and customers alike are groaning over the cost of transport fare, goods and services, report Ogochukwu Nwaokafor, Gloria Ibesi and CP Uzoaganobi.
Since President Bola Ahmed Tinubu announced in his inaugural speech, the withdrawal of fuel subsidy, the price of fuel had skyrocketed , with the commodity which formerly sold for N220, now selling for between N520 and N530, thus increasing the pains of the Nigerian masses.
Nachikwa Desmond who trades on grains at the Eke Awka Market, lamented that the high price of fuel had affected him and his business badly. ‘It made my grains so expensive because of hike in transport fare for purchasing grains,’ he said.
Desmond pleaded with the government to help subsidize fuel for the betterment of everyone.
However, Timothy who deals on foot wears, maintained that the removal of fuel subsidy had not in any way affected his business, adding that there had not been much difference between his present sales and his sales before the fuel price hike. He then called on the government to cushion the effects of the fuel hike before it got out of hand.
A wheel barrow pusher, Kosi, said in Pidgin English, ‘The increase in fuel price follow affect me too. I dey enter keke N100 from my house to the market before but now nah 150.’
According to a food vendor, Uchenna Deborah, the fuel hike had also adversely affected her. In her words,’ We no longer sell like before because once you tell people the new cost of food, they won’t buy.’ She stressed that due to the increase of fuel price, meals had equally reduced in quantity and quality. She called on that the government to listen to their cry and temper justice with mercy.
A yam seller, Mrs Okeke, told Fides that she bought her yams from Benue and that the prices of her goods did not increase due to the increase in fuel price but because during this season yams were always expensive.
A meat seller who did not give his name said buying meat now had become very difficult due to the high cost of fuel. He explained that they used to buy a lap of cow for N60, 000 but now he bought it for N80, 000, while no longer making as much profit as before.
One Mrs Anene who came to make some purchases in the market complained bitterly about how she had been in the market longer than usual because of the difficulty in buying things.
‘I can’t buy anything because they are now too expensive. The cost of transportation has gone up and even people used to eating on the plate are now eating on the floor due to the fuel price hike. I am a civil servant working with the government; the government should pay us minimum wage so that we can cope with the situation.
The Anambra State Government does not pay us well. They should do something about it and I plead with the Federal Government to please increase our salaries, while returning the price of fuel to what it was before in order to reduce our suffering,’ she said.
A food stuff seller who simply gave her name as Mrs Precious said transporting a carton of groundnut oil before from Onitsha to Awka was N150 but now N250 due to the hike in fuel price, adding that the government should come help fix the market by creating drainage systems where water could pass through during the rains to enable customers to come inside the market to buy things without soiling their legs.
‘We pay tax, so the government should come and fix the market for us.’ she added.
Collaborating with Fides, Mrs Vivian, a pepper seller, said, ‘We used to buy pepper cheap but now that we use small capital to run our business we find it difficult to cope;
Fides investigations gathered that the coming days may witness more hardships for both traders and buyers with the prices of fuel and foodstuffs not expected to come down.