Enugu consumers groan as prices of cooking gas, food items continue to soar

 Residents of Enugu State have decried the continuous hike in the price of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and staple food items such as rice and beans.The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in its new market survey found out that the price of LPG, popularly known as ‘cooking gas,’ and staple foodstuffs have soared further in the last few weeks despite outcry from consumers.

For cooking gas, findings show that a kilogram is now sold for N650 or N700, depending on the retailer patronised.While a N12.5kg gas cylinder now costs N7,500, 50kg goes for N33, 600 contrary to the previous cost of N30,000.A cooking gas retailer in Uwani, Mr Fabian Agbo, lamented that the continuous hike was severely affecting his business as many families were diverting to other energy sources.“As at the beginning of this year, we were selling 12.5kg of gas for N5,900, but once the price started increasing, it has refused to come down.”Another trader in Akwunanaw noted that the effect of the increases was most telling on families with fixed incomes.“People that normally fill their cylinders with 12.5kg now buy between 3kg and 5kg because they don’t have enough money to spend on gas,” he pointed out.Alexander Nnaemeka, the owner of Alex Gas Retail Shop in Abakpa, explained that although it was not convenient for his business, he was selling at N650 per kilogramme to attract customers.

The cooking gas retailer, among others, blamed the increase on the continuous rise in the naira-dollar exchange rate and the cost of transporting LPG from seaports in Lagos to the region.Meanwhile, NAN in its survey of foodstuff prices in Ogbete, Abakpa, Mayor and Gariki markets in the Enugu metropolis gathered that most food items were climbing in price with the exception of garri.For instance, a bag of 100kg brown beans, which cost about N55,000 two months ago, now sold for N80,000 – N90,000, according to traders in Ogbete and Abakpa Markets.A bag of white beans of the same size, however, sells for a lower price at about N75,770.The unabated increase in the price of chicken feed, traders lamented, is also making the price of eggs per crate skyrocket.A crate of eggs is currently sold between N1,500 – N1,700 per crate in the markets, as against the previous N600 – N1,200 price range.A unit of egg, on the other hand, goes for N60 or N70, depending on the size.Top staple food, rice, is also not left out. The prices of 25kg and 50kg bags of rice have also risen, although the former by only a slight.

While a 25kg bag of local rice formerly sold for N11,000 now goes for between N12,000 and N13,000 while the foreign variety is sold for N17,000, an increase of N2,000 from the previous price.The same is obtainable for 50kg bag of foreign rice which has risen from about N29,500 to between N34,000 to N36,000, depending on the brand.A retailer rice seller in Gariki Market, known as Mrs IK, noted that the rise in the price of  imported rice was due to the rising naira-dollar exchange rate.On the contrary, however, the price of garri has dropped.A paint bucket of white garri is now down to N700 from N900. Yellow garri, on the other hand, is sold for N1,000 per paint bucket.In their reactions, consumers have called on the government to make food affordable for the masses.A resident of Abakpa, Ms Constance Owalude, decried the high costs of basic food items such as noodles and palm oil, etc. saying food budget was now taking up to 40per cent of monthly income.“You get a headache each time you go to the market.

The price keeps rising and rising every day,” she added.On his part, Mr Ezekiel Jacob described the development as saddening.“This has made food unaffordable and has resulted in people using firewoods to cook. This is dangerous, especially at a time that we are trying to eliminate the effects of carbon, smoke and soot,” he said.“Natural gas ought to be the cheapest considering the amounts of gases we flare in this country. It’s not encouraging at all,” Jacob added. (NAN)