By Ozioruva Aliu, Benin-City
Prices of fishes have skyrocketed in Edo state as sellers have for the past three days refused to sell in protest of the activities of cold room owners and operators who they accused of arbitrary increase in the prices of fish, a more major protein source.
They called on the state government to look into an alarming situation where every seller or provider of particular service to the people form unions to regulate prices of their commodities which they lamented that most times are to the detriment of the people.
Fish sellers under the auspices of Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria drawn from several markets in Benin City who staged a peaceful protest in major streets stormed the secretariat of the Edo State Council secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ where they said a carton of fish which they used to buy N7,000 has within few years skyrocketed to N37,000, stressing that this has made fish out of reach of the common man in the street.
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To compound their problem, they accused cold room owners and operators of regulating how much fish is released to the market and at what price.
President, Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria, Rufus Okukpe, said due to the incessant increase in prices of fishes, they have stopped the selling of fishes at the moment, vowing not to return to the market until the government intervenes in the matter.
“Prices of Fishes in our various markets in Edo State have continued to increase on daily basis such that a carton of fish that we used to buy for seven thousand naira – N7,000 a few years ago has skyrocketed to N37,000 – thirty-seven thousand naira. This has made the prices of fishes to be way out of reach for the common man and woman of Edo State.”
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Also speaking, Mrs. Precious Igbinadua, a fish seller from Uselu market, Benin, said “appeals to the Cold Room owners to reduce the prices have fallen on deaf ears”, adding that they (Cold Room owners) have rather threatened that if they (fish sellers) further complain they would increase the price to N42,000.
She alleged that with the increment, the Cold Room owners are making a profit of not less than N7,000 to N8,000 from a carton, lamenting that this is too outrageous.
She said “They will go to Port Harcourt and buy the fish and divide it amongst themselves and decide the amount they are going to sell. Even when we confronted them that the price is too high, and that we are running at a loss and that the common man can no longer afford to buy fish, they said it is none of their business, and that if we complain further we will come back to buy the same carton at N42,000.
“This is the reason why we came out. The money these people are making from us as profit is too much. At least N2000 to N3000 profit is enough from a single carton and not this N7000 to N8000 they are making. At times we will go to them, they will hoard the fish and say they will not sell,” she lamented.
Vanguard News Nigeria
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