… Traders lament scarcity of goods
MAJOR markets in Ihiala Local Government Area largely complied to the shutting down operations in line with Anambra State Government’s directive in the fight to stem spread of COVID-19 in the state.
The markets include Nkwo Ogbe, Ihiala, Nkwo Okija, Market Centre, Uli and Afo Isseke.
The food markets are Uwa Mgbede, Ihiala, Eke Mbosi and Obodo Okoli, Uli,
Except food sections, drugs stores and filling stations, all businesses in the area were closed.
Some shops on the Orlu-Ihiala Expressway were all shutdown.
The people of the LG also largely endeavored to stay at home as directed by the government.
Some people were, however, seen moving around to purchase food stuffs or other essential commodities.
Mrs Catherine Uzo, who owns a shop inside Nkwo Ogbe Market, Ihiala, liked the restriction of movement but wants government to consider stimulus packages.
This, she said, was because some people might not have enough for their families while obeying the stay at home order.
Operator of a communication’s outfit at Uli Market, Valentine Eze said that nothing could be more precious than life.
“That shutdown order is a very nice idea as health is wealth.”
Chidozie Ngobili, a Councilor in Ihiala, observed that if stringent measures were not taken, Anambra might not have been free from the deadly virus as at then.
“Gov. Willie Obiano should not to relent in the fight against pandemic.”
Mr Maduka Mgbecheta, who owns a provision shop in Nkwo Okija, said he did not the support the shutdown of markets for two weeks.
Meanwhile, it was observed that at the entrance of food markets and essential commodities shops, buckets of water and hand-sanitisers were placed within easy access of shoppers.
At Eke Awka Market, our reporter observed that although a lot of shops not selling foodstuffs were closed while a lot of people thronged the market to either sell or buy foodstuffs.
Mr Ejiofo Chukwuemeka said that the price of food commodities in the market has drastically changed due to the pandemic. He said he bought a painter of garri at the rate of N1000, a day before the market was shot down and bought it at the rate of N1,500, two days after the shot down.
He urged government to do something in order to help the poorest of the poor who cannot afford the high price of food in the market.
Mrs Maria Ugwuanyi who sells ogbono, okpei, ose and egusi at the market said that since the existence of COVID-19, there had been a lot of changes in the price of food stuff which starts from the places they bought their goods.
“I went to buy my goods yesterday but I found out that the prices have really changed. The reason was that all states have closed their boundaries therefore people who bring in food are no longer coming in while the available ones increase in price. Some of the consumers are scared to come into the market in order to avoid contracting the disease.
Nobody is happy selling higher than what he sold before the existence of the disease rather it is due to how we bought our goods. The cost of transportation is also one of the reasons why there is change in the price of the food items because we cannot make all the expenses and end up losing our capitals. We survive by what we gained in our businesses and we pray that God will put an end to the deadly disease”.
She also said that the traders were being tasked to pay a certain amount before they could carry their goods out of the market, adding that the situation has made the market to slow down as buyers are no longer coming to buy things.
Mrs Ifeoma Onah who is also a trader of food items in the market said that the price of red oil changed from N8000 to N9500 for a 25 litre gallon but she still maintained her initial price per bottle which is N300 as well as the groundnut oil that added N50, making it N400 a bottle.
Mrs Ugodie Lucky at Odu Igbo line of Eke-Awka Market who is also from Umuonaga village, Awka, said that she sells egusi and its initial price in bags was N37,000 but it has increased to N39000 while it’s cup price remains N150for the hand processed one whereas the engine processed one is N100 which has been its earlier price.
“I bought most of my goods before now. So, I maintain my initial prices on them and I pray that this situation will end soon so that every business will go back to its normal prices. Some traders that added money in their goods are doing so as a result of how they bought it while some are still selling with their initial price despite the situation now. This is because our business is just like competition field which is when you refuse to sell well to your customers; you may likely lose him or her”.
Mr Elochukwu Onyeka who sales stock fish both in wholesale and retailing said that his goods are still at its old price but there is increase in transportation to and fro the market.
Mr Elochukwu also said that the market union have informed all the traders of food items to move their goods to a particular place in the market just within this period of the pandemic in order to enable the security men to safeguard the market and prevent other traders from coming in to the market as the state is on lockdown and everyone is expected to be at home but some of the traders insists to remain in their various shops. Therefore, the market taskforce goes round the market to task those traders for violating the rules while others are not disturbed.
Another trader in the market also said that the transporting of Onions from Asaba to Awka increased from N1200 to N2400 while transporting of tomatoes from Onitsha to Awka increased from N700 to N1500, noting that the expenses has made the size of the items to reduce from the initial size.
Mr Benjamin Ibeh said that the price of a bag of local rice from the north changed from N10,500 to N12,700 which is the landing price of the goods, adding that the cost of the transportation and other expenses will make it to increase higher.
The Chief of Staff, Eke-Awka, Sir Charles Daniel said that the price of the food commodities mostly changed during this period of the pandemic, noting that the a bag of semovita is N3500 while 42kg of foreign rice is N13,500 and the 50kg of Nigerian rice is N18,000 respectively, adding that it was sold cheaper than the price before the existence of COVID-19.
“There was rush in the market at the North and the farmers increased the price of the food items but if the customers are less, the farmers will reduce the price so as to sale their farm products. So, the pandemic brought about rush in the market.
Some traders withdrew money to purchase their goods in order to retain their customers but those goods are on hold now thereby keeping the traders without goods. Even the men at the border are not allowing the vehicles of those goods to cross rather they will be demanding N5000 from the drivers without issuing receipt.
On the order hands, companies of the instant noddles like Super Pack are not releasing their product to the buyers. its initial price was N2350 but when the company refused to sell out their products, the retailers increased money on the ones they have”.