By Osahon Osahon
Amalgamated fish sellers in Edo state, under the aegis of Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria, on Thursday protest alleged incessant increase in prices of fish by owners of cold room in the state.
The fish sellers, mostly women, made the accusation during a peaceful protest to major streets of Benin, the state capital.
They called for intervention by the state governor, Godwin Obaseki and relevant stakeholders, as it has made fish to be out of reach for the common man.
Addressing journalists at the secretariat of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), the President, Traders’ Welfare Union of Nigeria, Rufus Okukpe, said that a carton of fish which they used to buy N7,000 has suddenly skyrocketed to N37,000.
Okukpe who disclosed that they have stopped selling fish due to the incessant increase in prices of fishes, vowed that not return to market until the government intervene in the matter.
According to him, “Prices of fishes in our various markets in Edo state have continue to increase on daily basis, such that a carton of fish that we used to buy for N7,000, has skyrocketed to N37,000. This has made the prices of fishes to be way out of reach for the common man and woman of Edo state.
“At the moment, we the fish sellers have refused to sell fish for now in our markets in Benin city, until the Edo state government intervenes in the market.”
The fish sellers’ President urged all stakeholders to intervene for the sake of the ordinary man and woman on the street who can no longer buy fish.
Also speaking, Mrs. Precious Igbinadua, who plies her trade at Uselu market, alleged that with the price increase, the Cold Room owners are making N7,000 to N8,000 profit from a carton of fish, which she described as outrageous.
She said appeals to the Cold Room owners to reduce the prices fell, but even threatened further increase in prices.
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“They will go to Port Harcourt and buy the fish and divide it amongst themselves and decide the amount they are going to sell.
“Even when we confronted them that the price is too high, and that we are running at a loss, as the common man can no longer afford buying fish, they said it is none of their business, and that if we complain further we will come back to buy the same carton at N42,000.
“This is the reason why we came out. The money these people are making from us as profit is too much. At lease N2000 to N3000 profit is enough from a single carton and not this N7000 to N8000 they are making. At times we will go to them, they will hoard the fish and say they will not sell,” she lamented.
On her part, another fish seller from new Benin Market, Mrs. Ame Oselele, disclosed that they can no longer repay the various loans they took for their fish business, even as she lamented their inability to pay their children’s school fees.