In this feature, SHOLA BELLO, BUKOLA IDOWU, FIDELIS UGBOMEH and KEHINDE SALLAH write on the atmosphere preceding the Eid-el-Kabir celebrations
The federal government has declared Monday and Tuesday as public holidays to mark the Eid el Kabir, a major festival for Muslims around the world. As in years past, Muslims all over the world would be celebrating this year’s Eid-el Kabir and their Nigerian counterparts will not be left behind.
Across Lagos and other states in the country, ram markets have popped up heartily signifying the upcoming festivities. LEADERSHIP Sunday findings show that although the festivity has beckoned on us, the ambience does not reflect the celebrations as traders and transporters who mostly thrive during this period report low patronage.
Despite stability in the prices of consumables in major markets that were surveyed by LEADERSHIP Sunday in Lagos, traders say patronage has been low and it seems only transporters may be the ones to benefit the most from the festivity.
With hours to celebrate the festival, many Muslims are taking advantage of the season of sacrifice to spend time with their extended families and loved ones with several traveling across the country back to their hometowns.
The thronging of people at the parks is being taken advantage of by transporters who hiked the fares as much as 30 per cent with a tendency of the hike in fare to rise up to 100 per cent. Investigations carried out shows that the cost of transport for a journey from Lagos to Kaduna increased from N10, 000 to N13,000 while Lagos to Zaria and Kano, jumped from N11,000 and N12, 500 to N14,000 and N15,000 respectively .
However, transport fare to the nation’s capital from Lagos remained at between N7,000 and N8,000 depending on the category of commercial vehicle. A commercial vehicle driver who operates between Lagos and Abuja, Mr John Atulu stated that more people travelled out of Abuja than people that entered Abuja by road.
He noted that the trend is understandable considering the fact that Abuja is the Federal Capital City and the seat of government, adding that many civil servants and politicians prefer to travel back to their states of origin to celebrate with their various families and friends.
Investigations carried out by LEADERSHIP Sunday showed that some civil servants who deliberately fixed their annual vacations to coincide with the festivity have since traveled to their villages in preparation for the celebration while others hope to travel during the weekend.
A trader who travels frequently from Lagos to Kaduna, Mr. Abu Danladi said the increase in fares by commercial vehicle drivers was astronomical, adding that this period is not the best time for a trader to travel.
Traders Lament Low patronage As Prices Remain Stable
Meanwhile, traders across markets in Lagos have lamented low patronage from customers even as prices of food stuffs remain stable. In a market survey conducted by LEADERSHIP Sunday , it was observed that the hustle and bustle was low in some markets while the atmosphere in some others were upbeat.
Speaking with our correspondent, Mrs Taiwo Ademola, a groundnut oil trader in Ipodo market situated in Ikeja Local government area in Lagos, said people are not buying even though the prices of groundnut oil and palm oil didn’t change from what it used to be before the festive period.
“A gallon of 25 litres Kings Groundnut oil is N10,500, Nigerian product sells at N10,000 without gallon and N9000 with gallon, palm oil 25 litres is sold for N10,000. There is no sign of Sallah and we ought to have started seeing the signs of festivity.
“People are not buying they are just moving around the market and those who even try to buy, just purchase in small quantities. The products are not expensive but people are not just buying because there is no money in the country. If there is money there will be inflation but even now that the prices are normal sales has been dull” she said.
Another trader Emeka who sells rice in Ipodo market was of a different opinion, saying the price of rice has increased because of the coming Sallah celebration though, there has been low patronage. “Before the period we were buying at a cheaper price of N14,000 but as Sallah is coming the price increased to N15,000 it was the same last year.
“But probably after the festive period the price will reduce. For now, people are not shopping for Sallah yet but by weekend you know some people like shopping two days before the celebration,” he stated.
Contrary to this, Pepper seller, Mallam Seidu at Jankara market, Abuse Egba, Lagos stated that prices are going up for products like pepper, onion and tomato.
“When there is rain, prices will soar but when there is no rain it will come down. Sallah won’t affect the prices because the rain has stopped a bit and there is surplus in the market. A basket of tomatoes was N30,000 last year. Now it is still the same although it is still going down. A bag of onion is N11,000. By December it reached N40,000, and N30,000. Red Pepper goes for N4,000/N5,000. But the prices will shoot between Friday and Sunday, ” he said.
The managing director of Bolatito Enterprise, Mrs. Bola Alo, a dealer in children items lamented low patronage, likening the market situation to the state of the economy. She said “we are hoping that things would turn around at the last minute. We had envisaged this because of the state of the economy.”
She added that “The cost of purchasing children dresses or shoes was not too high when compared to prices in January. Right now, depending on quality, dresses range from N5,000 to N12,000 while shoes can be gotten for N5,000.
“We make sales but not like before as expected, because if we refuse to sell the clothes on time, it will result to shortage for us. At least, getting little patronage is better than none.”
Last Minute Ram Purchases?
Pop-up ram and cow markets line the streets with more deliveries than sales, although traders say they expect sales to go up a day to the Eid el Kabir celebrations.
A visit to Oba Isolo cow and ram market in Isolo showed that many cows and rams have already been transported to the market. According to a cow and ram dealer who gave his name has Eja, the prices of the livestock was quite expensive this year, A full grown ram goes for N60,000 to N80,000 and a well bred cow goes within the price range of N130,000 to N250,000.
When asked by our correspondent how patronage has been, he said they are still waiting for people to turn up and hopefully by Friday/Saturday there will be a boost in sales as many people like to make last minute purchases.
Another cattle dealer, Alhaji Abdul Kazeem said that “An average ram which was sold at N40,000 a few weeks ago is now selling between N57,000 to N80,000, while a small ram of N30,000 is now selling for N55,000 to N60,000.
The price of sheep and goats also indicated similar hikes as it was sold at N25,000 and N20,000 as against its previous price of N15,000 and N10,000 respectively.
He noted that, “We are recording low sales due to hike in prices because the demand surpassed the supply. Traders from other places are no longer coming to Maiduguri due to Boko Haram insurgency. The ban imposed on cattle movement also pushed up prices,” he said, noting that the supply routes and major cattle markets were attacked by the insurgents in the last six years.
However, the ram and cow traders are hopeful that in spite of the economic situation, Muslims who did not go on pilgrimage this year will still find a way to perform the rites of killing a ram, cow or camel.
Ensuring Road Safety During Sallah
Meanwhile, the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) has commenced massive mobilisation of its personnel for the Sallah special patrol aimed at ensuring safer road environment during the festive period and beyond. The Corps Public Education Officer, Bisi Kazeem said not fewer than 35,000 of the FRSC Regular and Special Marshals, 736 Patrol Vehicles, 120 Ambulances, 25 Tow Trucks And 204 Bikes would be on the road during the special operation that would commence from 9th to 16th August, 2019.
The Corps Public education Officer stated that the special patrol operation has become necessary following the Corps’ commitment to its 2019 Corporate Strategic Goals of reducing road traffic crashes (RTC) by 20 per cent and fatality by 25 per cent.
He said, “FRSC has a tradition of always organising special patrols during festive periods as a way of averting the chaos that characterise the road during the celebrations, as such, this year’s Eid el Kabir would not be an exemption.
“Motorists must endeavour to avoid traffic violations and remain conscious of their safety to avoid not only arrests and prosecution by members of the Corps, but falling prey to avoidable road crashes.”
In addition, “the mission of the special operation is to ensure free flow of traffic, provide prompt rescue services and timely clearance of obstructions on all major roads and critical corridors across the country before, during and after the festive period as well as minimizing the occurrence of road traffic crashes on the nation’s highways through effective patrol operations and sustained public enlightenment campaigns.”
To ensure the effectiveness of the operations, Kazeem revealed that the Corps Marshal, Dr Boboye Oyeyemi directed commanding officers operating across various formations nationwide to ensure that the 52 corridors are properly manned throughout the period of the operations.
He however appealed to motorists to obey all traffic rules and regulations and cooperate fully with the FRSC and other law enforcement agencies that would be deployed for traffic management duties, saying Mobile Courts would be in session across the country for prompt dispensation of justice to recalcitrant traffic violators.
The Corps Marshal, also directed that the operatives pay first-rate focus on Effective Traffic Control, Wrongful Overtaking, Use of Phone while Driving, Drivers Licence Violation, Lane Discipline, Removal of Rickety vehicles on the road, Driving with Expired/ worn out tyres and without spare tyres etc.
To achieve this fit, the Corps has deployed operational equipment in the categories of Radar Guns, Breathalysers to put a check on drunk driving, operational logistics materials are also to be fully deployed for this exercise. More so, the Corps Marshal has equally directed that all Zebras must be active 24/7 and be responsive to calls within the minimum FRSC response time to crashes reported.
Kazeem noted that, among the 52 corridors to be covered are: Akwanga-Lafiya-Makurdi, Jos-Bauchi-Gombe, Sokoto-Tambuwal-Jega-Birnin Kebbi corridor, Katsina-Kano-Wudil-Dutse-Azare-Potiskum corridor, Kaduna-Saminaka-Jos corridor, Abuja-Kaduna-Kano corridor, Okene-Ogori-Isua-Owo corridor, Makurdi-Otukpo-Obollo Afor-9th Mile corridor, Asaba-Abraka-Ughelli-Warri corridor, Ibadan-Ogere-Sagamu corridor, Sagamu-Mowe-Lagos corridor, amongst others.
In line with the foregoing, the patrol is to run in shifts as follows 0600hrs – 1400hrs, 1400HRS – 2000hrs, 2000hrs – 2200hrs, and Night Rescue teams to be on standby at all operational Commands. The Corps will go into the exercise with the friendly collaboration with Military Units en-route or resident, the Nigerian Police Force, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, Department of State Security, State owned/NGO’s Ambulance service providers, National Network on Emergency Rescue Services (NNERS) and Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA).
The Corps Marshal is by this, advising all motorists to be patient on the road and ensure that they operate within the ambit of the law, as the Corps is out to ensure compliance of established traffic laws by all. He therefore wished all travellers safe trip to their destinations as he felicitates with Muslim faithful.
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