*Traders lock up warehouses, shops
By Mosunmola Ayobami
Rice traders have embraced on strike of sort in Oja-tuntun, Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State and some other famous markets in Ilorin Metropolis by locking up their shops as the price of rice soar higher on a daily basis.
The price of a bag of rice rose from around N10,500 about two months ago to N17,000 as at Saturday. Traders who could not afford to purchase rice took to locking up their shops.
This action led to rice scarcity, where only those who had bags of rice at home before the scarcity are not selling, meaning the price may even go higher.
Speaking with WESTERN POST Correspondent in Ilorin on Saturday, a market-woman, Mrs. Titilayo Atolagbe, said most of the rice dealers’ shops in the markets are presently under lock and key.
She said: “I was surprised seeing most of the shops under lock and key today (Saturday), as I did not know that rice scarcity has gotten to that level. The only set of traders selling rice as I’m talking to you are those who had in their stores before the hike, and I must say its becoming too serious.
“A lady met me where I was about buying oil and she wanted to buy rice but to my amazement when she asked for the price, she was told a bag now goes for 17k. Imagine a bag of rice for a 17 thousand naira! Its so serious”.
Also speaking with our Correspondent, a sales representative of one of the major marketers (name withheld) in Oja-tuntun Market, Master Shola Ayodeji, said the Federal Government caused the grains scarcity as the neighbouring countries supplying rice to Nigeria have been asked to stop, yet we cant meet local demand.
“FG has banned importation of rice to the country. In last 8 days, the FG has changed Customs Officers at the border points while in Republic of Benin, they are lamenting low sales because Nigeria no longer patronises them.”
Ayodeji said Nigeria is not ripe yet for total ban on rice importation, while new and upcoming rice factory are not empowered to produce in commercial quantities.
“The FG advises us to patronise infant industries that they do not empower. I don’t know how that will work. Rice scarcity now tends to bite harder. A bag of rice was sold for N15,000 and N17,000 between Friday and Saturday in Ilorin, “he said.