The current fuel scarcity has triggered hike in the prices of food items in Owerri as traders attributed the rise to the high cost of transportation as Banks ATMs fails to dispenae1 cash to customers
A check by our team of reporters on Saturday at the popular Relief market in Owerri showed that the price increase started as the fuel scarcity bites harder few days ago.
Naija247news also gathered that as Christmas was fast approaching, the race to stock up food items reached its peak as suppliers struggled to meet demands.
At Relief Market in Owerri, a basket of tomatoes which previously sold for N6, 000 five days ago now goes for N10, 000 while a bag of red pepper now cost N8,000, compared to its previous price of N5, 500 per basket.
“Similarly, a bag pepper also increased from N10, 000 to N16, 000 while bag of onions, which was previously sold between N17,000 and N21,000 now goes from N28, 000 to N35,000, depending on the size.
Some of the food items suppliers from the North, who spoke to NAN, attributed the price increase to the fuel scarcity which also affected the cost of transporting the produce from the hinterland.
Walshak Dadu, a tomatoes and onions supplier from Jos, said prices increased because suppliers had to factor in the cost and stress of getting fuel from filling stations.
Naija247news reports that food items such as yams, beans, pepper, onion, tomatoes and others have also become more expensive.
“A big tuber of yam which previously sold at N500 increased to N700 while smaller tubers which were sold between N200 and N300 increased to N400.
“A 50 kilogram (kg) bag of rice, which was sold at N19,000, slightly increased to N22,000, while a 25kg bag went from N9500 to N11,000.
Average size live chicken which was N2,500 increased to N3,500, while turkey went from 10,000 to as much as N14,000 due to transportation costs.
Meanwhile Residents of Jos on Saturday decried the poor services by banks as many automated teller machines (ATM) in the metropolis failed to dispense cash to frustrated customers on long queues.
Some of the stranded customers, who spoke with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Jos, expressed disappointment at the failure of many bank ATMs to dispense cash.
NAN observed that no fewer than 20 customers were seen clustering round various ATM points waiting to withdraw money.
The bank customers attributed the inability of many of the ATMs machines to dispense cash to network problem and accused bank managements of inadequate arrangements to avert the situation.
Mr Alfred Ibrahim, a businessman, said he was on the ATM queue at Beach road in Jos North for more than four hours, lamenting that most of the ATMs were not working.
He said that bank managements were aware of the usual bottlenecks at the ATM points during festive periods and ought to have made good provision for easy access to withdrawals.
“I was expecting the banks to make adequate preparations for this season but out of five machines in a bank, none is even dispensing cash; that is why there are longer queues where they are operational,” he explained.
Mr Chijioke Okpara, a civil servant, said he went to the ATM at Stefans Rayfield at about 5 a.m. and still met bdozens of people on the queue.
“I went to the ATM around 5 a.m. and left around 8.45 a.m. I just wonder why banks would not ensure all their machines are working and have enough cash, “he said.
Mrs Josephine Dawak, a civil servant, told NAN at an ATM at Secretariat Junction in Jos South that the banks were making deliberate efforts to reduce spending during the Yuletide season.
“They tell us if you are not withdrawing above N100,000, do not come to the banking hall, yet they are hoarding money for the machines when they should all be operational, ” she said.
Mr Ibrahim Isa, who was on transit to another local government, said he had visited several ATMs and was unable to withdraw money due to the long queues.
““I am stranded now for lack of funds to continue my journey, I am coming from Abuja going to Mangu Local Government Area, I have been on my feet without food for more than four hours.
“I came to Terminus, thinking it would be easier but to my dismay, the crowd here is intimidating, you cannot be allowed to withdraw for emergency reasons because everyone is tired of standing, “he said.
NAN reports that many customers blamed bank managements for not adequately stuffing their ATMs with enough cash during the festive period.
“Bank officials knew well that cash is always in high demand during this time and more so salaries have just been paid, so they should have made enough cash available at ATMs,” said a bank customer.
All efforts by Naija247news to speak with officials of the various banks proved abortive as they all refused to comment.
News Agency of Nigeria contributed to thia report