The next time you buy any item from the market that comes in bags, your best option is to look carefully, or even have the item weighed to ensure that the appropriate quantity is what you are paying for. In the absence of this, you may pay for a bag and go back home with half a bag. Investigation by LEADERSHIP has revealed that most consumers go home with less the quantity of goods they demand, thereby losing money to shylock traders whose favourite part-time has become re-packaging their goods.
LEADERSHIP gathered that most products that come in bags, including rice, cement, salt, sugar, beans, and others are regularly reduced in some markets across the South-East. A source told our correspondent that these traders are so careful and also very creative that they get branded bags that are similar to those of the products they want to re-bag. Through devious method, they get little quantities out of it, and after they have done so for most of the bags in their shops, they end up getting extra bags for themselves, which obviously adds to their profit when sold.
A survey carried out by LEADERSHIP in markets around Anambra State showed that in most clusters, traders around are very conversant with those who engage in such nefarious acts. It was discovered that this is done without the knowledge of the producers of the product, and this most times leads some customers to despise some products, not knowing that the fault actually emanates from the traders and not the producers.
A trader told LEADERSHIP that food items are the most re-packaged. The source, who is a trader at Eke Awka main market and who also sought anonymity said that those who engage in such acts are making lots of profit from it.
He said: “What you must know is that those who engage in this nefarious act do it because they do not have the fear of God in them. They go the whole hog of buying sacks and printing on it, then they stay long hours in warehouses outside the market to perpetrate the act, after which they sew the bags and bring them back to the market in lorries as if they are coming from the company.”
The source added that a full bag of rice is supposed to contain 200 cups, but some shylock traders go ahead to remove 20 cups and some times more from each bag and use them to make up another bag.
Another unpopular means by which the traders go about this sharp practice is simply placing order for cheap brands of a product, and at the end they empty the product into bags branded in fast moving products, or those known to be of high quality. “This is why most times, people buy rice and come back to tell us that they bought a particular product but were surprised that it did not match their taste,” the source said.
Cement is also another product that is being re-bagged by some traders. An official of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr Louis Njoku, told LEADERSHIP that the organisation has commenced raids in most south-eastern markets to ensure that what consumers get is commensurate with what they actually pay for.
Njoku, who is the SON’s director of enforcement, said that it has been discovered that some traders remove some quantity of the rice and re-sew the bags, while using the removed quantity to make up another bag which is put on sale too. Njoku disclosed that shops in Awka and Onitsha have been shut for such practices, and their goods evacuated to the organization’s office in Awka.
He assured that necessary steps would be taken to ensure that consumers get their money’s worth each time they make purchases. He advised consumers to feel free to weigh any product they want to buy before paying for them. He acknowledged that some of the traders whose shops were locked for such practices claim that the products came in such quantities from the manufacturers. But Njoku insisted that no manufacturer would want to do such as it would amount to driving away customers.
A consumer, Mr. Jesty Obele, who operates Rendevous Restaurant in Awka, confirmed that he has fallen victim of a re-bagged product before, saying that the best way is to maintain a trustworthy customer.