By John Okoh
Christmas is in the air but the mood for many Nigerians may have been fouled by the rising cost of food items and inter and intra city transport fares in vehicular and air travels. As most persons troop to the market for last minute purchases and travellers relocate to celebrate with loved ones, vehicular and commuter traffic has increased, forcing some drivers to raise the fare to compensate for the hours spent in traffic, while many others simply exploit the situation to make money, investigation has shown.
Lagos, the commercial nerve of the country is particularly hit as transport fare has increased by 100 per cent, forcing commuters to trek long distances before boarding vehicles to their destination. For instance, the Sango- Oshodi routes through the Aboekuta Expressway used to cost N200. It now goes for N400; the fare would however go as high as between N500 to N700 in rush hour and late in the day.
A driver, Ashade, blamed it on huge traffic that is “usually witnessed at this period when buyers and sellers cease the chance to stock their shops in readiness for more patronage and buyers do last minute shopping.” He also blamed the bad roads for the traffic gridlock, “as everybody want to take the same road because the side roads are bad”.
Transportation by road from Lagos to some eastern and southern parts of the country has doubled. From between N5,000 N7,000 before the Yuletide, it is now N13,000. A driver, Chima Mbah said most vehicles make the return journey back to Lagos empty, adding that the situation would reverse when the holiday makers are coming back to Lagos in January 2019.
A father of four who wanted to travel from Bida in Niger State to his village in Anambra had to shelve the trip as he could not afford the new fare of N13,000 per person.
Airfares are also affected. A trip from Lagos to Enugu that costs N23,500 a few days ago has gone up to N50,000. Yet Abuja Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport and the local and International airports in Lagos, for examples, have witnessed high volume of passengers travelling within and outside the country. An official of one of the airports said, “increased in airfare should be expected at this time of the year as usual.”
For food items, a 50 kg bag of rice that used to sell for N14, 000 a month ago now sells for between N16,500 and N17,000 in Lagos. In reverse order, prices for tomato, pepper, onions, onions and vegetable salad items have reduced, giving relief to homes. According to a housewife, Mrs Ene Madieline, “the prices of tomato, pepper, onions and vegetable salad things are affordable, I have to stock them.”
In many parts in the Southeast, price of rice ranges between N20,000 and N22,000 for A 50kg bag.
In Wuse market, in the Fedearl Capital Territory, FCT, Abuja, prices of rice remain N15,000 for the 50kg, while the 25kg goes for N7,500. A trader, Hass Dogo blamed it on the fluctuation of the exchange rate of the Naira to the Dollar.
In other report monitored by THISAGE, the situation is slightly different in some parts of the country. In Benin-City, the Edo State capital, cost of livestock has increased. Cow that used to go for N120,000 has gone up to N150,000, while goat from N15,000 to N45,000 and turkey from N10,000 to N15,000. A trader, Adeola blamed the high cost on cost of transporting the livestock form the northern part of the country.