…onions mostly affected

Yinusa Sanni was not happy when two customers declined to buy onions from him in quick succession. According to him, these are his regular customers who do not haggle over onion prices in Benin City, but that was not the case on the two occasions they refused to patronise which, according to him, was due to the cost of the item.

“My customers don’t know what transporters go through along the Benin-Auchi Expressway when bringing us food items. The road is bad,” he exclaimed.

It should be recalled that this week, House of Representatives members from Edo State decried the deplorable state of federal roads in Edo State and South-South sub-region, urging the concerned federal agencies such as the Federal Ministry of Works, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) and Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs to urgently do the needful in order to alleviate the sufferings of the people of the subregion.

Prices of onions, one of the major vegetables in Nigeria, have maintained a rising trend in the last few months, but are getting worse daily. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Imo, Abia and Lagos States recorded the highest prices of onion bulbs as of August 2023, with the item costing N806.09, N841.95 and N847.83, respectively.

Same period, the item cost N790.16 in Cross River, N761.31 in Akwa Ibom, N760.22 in Rivers, N727.04 in Bayelsa, N691.67 in Edo and N466.39 in Delta.

As the state of major roads in the South-South gets worse, their impact in the last six weeks has turned the table around, with the price of onion skyrocketing in Edo State, among other states in the region.

Field survey by The Nigerian Observer revealed that an average medium size onion bulb which cost about N100 three weeks ago now costs N150. The bigger onion bulbs cost more even with hawkers.

On interaction, sellers attributed the sharp rise in onion bulb to the state of federal roads in and out of Edo State, as well as the rising cost of fuel.

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“Roads are bad. The big trucks find coming to this place difficult, only the small pick-up trucks bring onions to us here. How many trips will they make to bring enough onions to Edo?” Ahmed Waziri, an onion seller, said.

He added that because the quantity they supply is not enough to meet demand, prices of the item have been going up.

Food inflation rose for the eighth straight month to 29.43 percent in August 2023m, according to the latest data by the NBS. States in the South-South geopolitical zone recorded some of the highest food inflation rates in the country.

Bayelsa State recorded a 34.11 percent food inflation rate in August this year. Other states in the South-South where the food inflation rate is higher than the national average include Rivers, 34.05 percent; Delta, 32.89 percent; Edo, 31.39 percent; Akwa Ibom, 31.26 percent, and Cross River, 31.19 percent.

The state of federal roads in Edo and other South-South states has attracted attention in recent times due to the suffering people of the region go through while traversing those roads.

Late September, the Minister of Niger Delta, Abubakar Momoh, while on assessment tour in Delta State, canvassed collaboration between states in the subregion and federal government, with a view to addressing the state of federal roads in the Niger Delta.

This is as the Governor of Delta State, Rt. Hon. Sheriff Oborevwori, announced the award of contracts for the construction of federal roads in Delta State.

“These are all federal roads and if a governor can approve N78bn to construct federal roads, then we need to collaborate to work for the people. Politics has come and gone and it is now time for us to see how we can develop the region.

“We are bringing Julius Berger to execute projects in Warri and Effurun. Exco has approved N78bn and between now and next month we will sign the agreement because we are mobilising them with 25 percent,” Oborevwori said.