• Ram Markets Hit By High Prices, Low Patronage
(Sundiata Post) – Domestic airlines have raised their fares from Lagos to northern routes in Nigeria, such as Kano, Kaduna, Maiduguri and Abuja, as a result of the Eid-el-Kabir celebration, which has also pushed up the prices of rams.
Patronage at the ram markets is however low, as buyers stay away. Investigations in aviation circles reveal that there is increasing load factor on major routes, on account of the long public holidays and celebration associated with the Muslim festivities.
When BusinessDay visited the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Ikeja in Lagos Wednesday, it was discovered that airfares for a one-way trip on the LagosAbuja, Kaduna, Kano and Maiduguri routes, which was N30,000 two weeks ago is now N48,000.
A travel agent, who craved anonymity, disclosed that Nigerians were really travelling this season, despite the economic downturn. “As I speak to you, the load factor of these locations is almost full for tomorrow and the day after. Nigerians are resilient and love to travel just to celebrate with their loved ones. “Airlines leverage festive periods like the Eid-el-Kabir to make up for lost revenues during non-festive periods. As such, Medview Airlines, which is the major operator on the northern routes, is doing brisk business. “The Abuja route is likewise experiencing high demand and airlines are leveraging that to also charge high fares. Airfares for the eastern part of Nigeria have remained relatively stable,” the travel agent added. The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has assured airport users that Nigerian airports under its management are ready to deliver quality service to air travellers during these celebrations. As part of its preparations to ensure seamless facilitation of passengers during the celebration and beyond, the VIP Protocol lounge at the General Aviation Terminal, Lagos, has recently been refurbished to give maximum comfort and value to customers. Henrietta Yakubu, general manager, corporate affairs, said the maintenance of the conveyor belts at the Muratala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos has been completed and functioning optimally. “In addition, airport security and other logistics have been upgraded and strengthened to provide for the expected increase in passenger traffic in and around our airports; new directional display units have been provided to guide travellers at our airports. Airport do’s and don’ts banners have also been displayed at strategic locations to educate newcomers,” Yakubu assured.
Also, Ram sellers in Zaria, Kaduna State, on Tuesday expressed concern over low patronage by customers barely three days to Sallah.
The ram sellers made their positions known in separate interviews in Zaria.
Malam Abdulmuminu Alhassan, the Sarkin Turkun Sarkin Zazzau, described the market situation this year as worrisome.
He attributed the low patronage to the economic downturn presently bedeviling the country.
According to him, in view of the economic predicament and high cost of the rams, those who used to buy five rams now go for only two.
Alhassan said that a ram of about N70,000 now cost between N100,000 and N120,000.
“A small one that used to cost N20,000 now sells between N25,000 and N30,000,” he said.
Alhaji Uwaisu Lawal, a ram seller behind Queen FM, Tudun Wada, Zaria, while comparing the sales of past years, described this year’s sales as the lowest.
“Actually, the patronage is low compared to previous years.
“People are not purchasing as they used to and this can be linked with Nigerians not having enough money at hand.
“However, the price of ram is also on the high side due to the high price of animal feeds.
“A bag of crop residue that used to cost N3,500 now goes for N6,000; while a bag of seed pods, which was initially sold at N2,500 now sells between N4,500 and N5,000,” he noted.
He also attributed the high cost of the rams to low supply of the rams, compared with the demand for them.
According to him, the law of demand and supply will surely come to play.
Lawal, however, appealed to the government to rescue the business of animal rearing from imminent collapse by coming to their aid.
Meanwhile, Malam Auwal Aliyu, a ram seller at Sabongari, Zaria, attributed the scarcity of rams to the non-influx of animals from Niger Republic and other neighbouring countries.
“In the previous years, ram sellers from Nigeria go as far Niger Republic and other neighbouring countries to bring the animals.
“However, this year, the situation is no longer the same and this is due to the high exchange rates,” Aliyu said.