High prices, low patronage send frozen fish sellers in Delta out of business

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…As angry Electricity consumers protest, besiege Kogi AEDC office***

Fish sellers in Asaba, Delta, are gradually deserting the business due to the high cost of imported frozen fish and low patronage in the last one year.

Those still in the business highlighted this on Thursday in Asaba, attributing the continuous increase in the price of fish to the high exchange rate of dollar against the Naira as the major contributory factor.

The Leader of Frozen fish sellers in Asaba main market, Mrs Nneli Obiagulu, noted that a carton of Titus frozen fish, which sold for N23, 000 in December 2017, had increased to N27, 000.

While a carton of mackerel fish that was sold for N9,000 in the same period, had gone up to N16,000, adding that most members had taken into other businesses.

She said: “The increase in the price of frozen fish is becoming a major challenge to us because most of our members now struggle to sell one carton of fish on daily basis.

“This is unlike before when we sold as many as two to four cartons.

“Despite the high cost of frozen fish, we are not even sure of making up to N1,000 from one carton at the end of the day.

 “Most of the customers who normally patronize us have shifted their base to buying beef because they now feel it is cheaper for them to buy.’’

 Similarly, some food vendors whose views were sought actually confirmed this, saying that the increase in the price of frozen fish was becoming unbearable for them, because frozen fish had become a food for only the rich.

 Mr Juliet Osamor, a food vendor said, “It is cheaper for me to use beef for stew than using frozen fish because my customers prefer to buy a plate of rice with one beef for N200.

“Instead, they buy that same plate of rice with small beef for N250.

 “Even some of my well known customers who used to buy fish from me have shifted to eating beef because to them, it is now cheaper for them.’’

 Some of the beef seller also confirmed the development, noting that in spite of the economic situation, patronage in the business had been very encouraging in the last one year.

 According to Azubuike Chidi, a beef seller at the Asaba modern market, business had been encouraging “because we sell as low as N500 beef and this has been attracting very good patronage.“

But while frozen fish sellers were deserting business in Asaba, residents of Ganaja area of Lokoja in Kogi State, on Thursday besieged the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company (AEDC) Area Office to protest alleged exorbitant and estimated billings and general inefficiency of the company.

The angry protesters, in their hundreds, had earlier locked the Ganaja office of the company and matched to the Area office on IBB way, Central Area of Lokoja to register their displeasure.

The protesters listed the alleged sins of the company to include estimated billing, over-billing, non-reading of meters, poor electricity supply, lack of prepaid meters and constant harassment by AEDC officials.

The protest started at 8 a.m. with placard carrying youths and women taking over the ever busy IBB Way, resulting into the diversion of vehicles.

Some of the placards read “AEDC, Enough is Enough”, “Engr. Oluwatoyin Junaidu Must Go”, “AEDC Worst Disco in Nigeria” among many other inscriptions.

Liman Ishaq, a community leader in Ganaja and spokesman of the protesters, said that power supply to Ganaja had been epileptic since the deployment of the Area Manager, Oluwatoyin Junaidu, to Kogi over four months ago.

Ishaq noted that in spite of complaints from Ganaja and other residents of Lokoja metropolis, no positive change had been observed as electricity supply remained at its lowest ebb.

“Aside the exorbitant billing, Ganaja has never had it so bad,” he said.

James Olayemi, an Engineer in the company, who addressed the protesters on behalf of the management, assured the protesters that their complaints would be addressed.

He appealed for calm and patience on the part of the protesters, promising improved power supply.

Meanwhile, men of the Nigerian Police who arrived two hours into the protest, shot teargas and fired gunshots into the air to disperse the protesters.

In response, the protesters threw stones at the police.

However, normalcy returned to the area after about three hours of lock-down of the AEDC area office and the major road.