AS people put final touches to preparations for the New Year, many residents of the Federal Capital Territory have expressed concerns about the high cost of foodstuff and other basic items they would need to have a memorable celebration.
Traders also lamented low patronage few hours to the dawn of year 2022.
Some residents who spoke with Saturday Vanguard in Abuja on Friday disclosed that some food items had become costlier than they were before Christmas last week.
A housewife in Pyakasa community in Abuja Municipal Area Council, Mrs Evelyn Kyauta, told one of Our Correspondents that prices of some foodstuff like rice, beans, and garri had remained stable since the previous week, but the prices of perishable items like tomatoes, green beans, carrots and fruits had gone up.
“While we don’t know exactly why the prices of perishables have increased, I am tempted to believe that the traders are taking undue advantage of the Holiday season to exploit consumers,’’ she said.
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But traders in Lugbe ultra-modern marker, however, ruled out any form of profiteering, saying that the profit margin on perishables was quite minimal compared to the risk of stocking it.
Mrs Nofisatu Olayinka, a tomato seller in the market said: “Yes, four small tomato balls go for N100 compared to seven or eight balls we sold for the same price last week. It is not that there is much gain in the business. We are into this business to just keep body and soul together.
“The large dealers are complaining of the high cost of transportation and storage, especially because of the risks posed by the harmattan, so they have reduced the quantity they usually stock, creating scarcity in the process.”
A wholesaler of various brands of rice at Wuse market, who identified himself simply as Mr. John, said he knew that patronage would get worse post-Christmas for some traders as more families travel to their home states for the New Year celebration, saying it had become the norm.
A resident of Garki Area 11 of the nation’s, Mrs. Phoebe Angyu, a civil servant, stated that in anticipation of arbitrary increment of prices by retailers of some foodstuff before the New Year, she had stocked the food items she would need throughout the yuletide season.
“I have done my shopping for foodstuff for the end of the year celebration before Christmas. Last week, I went to the market to buy a bag of rice, a gallon (4 Litres) of vegetable oil. I also stocked tomatoes and condiments.
“The economy has, however, been harsh that I cannot comfortably afford all that I needed to buy. It is clear things are not well in this country but we shall all survive,” she said.
Moreover, during a visit to the popular Gosa market in Kuje Area Council, it was discovered that prices of items like regular beverages and cooking oil had increased when compared to the prices that obtained at the corresponding time in 2020.
Sachets of beverages (e.g milk, milo) that sold at N700 now goes for N1,200; six kilogramme of cooking gas that sold at N2,400 now goes for N4,200. One 75 centilitre bottle of groundnut oil cost N600 last year, but the price now is N900.
In the same vein, the cost of transportation from Abuja to other parts of the country increased astronomically. For instance, from Zuba park to Okene which hitherto used to cost N1,200 is now N4,000 while a trip from Abuja to Benin rose from N4,000 to N15,000.
A journalist who asked not to be named, a father of three, said he was under intense pressure to meet up with his expenses during the season.
“Most middle class Nigerians can no longer afford decent Christmas and New Year celebrations. The high cost of the items has forced many families to adjust their spending plans.
“As a father, I have to make sure there is enough food at home while also thinking about school fees payment for the new term which will commence next week,” he said.