- Traders in popular Lagos market have expressed concern over the cost price of goods, six months after partial border closure
- Legit.ng visited a major market in Lagos state and the sellers revealed general cost price of goods, share their challenges in purchasing goods especially rice and as well present market situation
- As slow pace of business becomes the order of the day, marketers plead with the government to make local produce affordable and available so as to make more sales and record good profit
Six months after the partial closure of the Nigerian-Benin border, traders especially rice sellers in a major market in Lagos state have expressed concern over the cost price of goods. The traders in a chat with Legit.ng revealed the general cost price of goods, challenges of purchasing goods now and explained the current market situation.
Prior to this day, the land border was closed partially by the Federal government to reduce smuggling activities and stop illegal importation of rice and as well support local produce in the country.
While some informed that the gains outweigh the loss in the country, others added that the closure has brought about the recognition and acceptance of Local produce in the country; but the reverse seems to be the case with some traders in the market.
Findings by Legit.ng at the market showed that the closure of the border has led to the reduction in prices of some goods in the market.
Speaking with our correspondence, a trader who sells food items explained the current market situation months after the border closure.
He said: “After the border closure, some goods have become very affordable and available. Local farmers in the country have gained from the closure so far but the only issue we have with them is the cost price of the goods they supply to us especially rice, it is still very expensive and this is worrisome. The closure of the land border after six months has led to a change in various markets across the country; also, buyers have come to terms with it as they cannot do without purchasing what is offered for sale in the market. But some marketers are yet to accept the development so far and others are coping quite well with it.
“Before the border closure, food prices are unstable and others fluctuate. But now, some are fixed and others expensive; and the price of goods especially rice is still above the general cost price before the border closure; so the buyers are pleading for the reduction in food prices especially rice and other imported goods; as some cannot afford the local goods of good quality sold at expensive rates.”
Mr. James, a trader in the market counts his gain six months after border closure and pleaded with the government to strengthen local farmers the more.
“The border closure has been accepted already by some businessmen/women and for others who are carrying out their daily activities in that area, they are yet to come to terms with the development as it has affected their businesses; they lament daily over the closure because it has led to scarcity of their goods and increment in the cost price directly and indirectly. I would say while some are counting their loss, others who sell foodstuff items are counting their gains.
“The border closure led to the reduction in the cost price of food items in the market as items whose prices are influenced by the weather condition are fluctuates often. For goods like ogbono and egusi, after the border closure; they are affordable now and very much available, this has resulted to increased sales as most buyers now buy in large quantity.
“The development was and is a blessing in disguise. It is one thing we never saw coming but we only hope the government would keep to its promises in empowering local farmers the more as the cost of producing local goods is higher coupled with the equipment needed to keep the production on track but in doing this, they should also make our economy better as some locally produce goods are more expensive than the imported ones. Presently, the closure is not permanent but temporary which does not guarantee a long-term positive impact in business activities across the country,” Mr. James stated.
Another trader who is a rice dealer but sells other goods like garri, groundnut, palm-oil, groundnut-oil and beans complain over the high cost of the local rice thereby urged the authorities to find a lasting solution to this price hike.
The trader said: “I love the idea of the government that says we should eat what we produce and produce what we should eat, it is a very good one. We appreciate the decision of the government from the beginning as traders but we just cannot imagine the high cost of the local produce that is of good quality. As at this period, some traders continue to lament over the hike in cost price of some imported goods after the border closure as the cost price is beyond their purse. The reality is, some have close their shops and others that are managing to sell, their stalls or shops are scanty with limited goods on display.
“The local rice is very good but the one that is of low quality is being neglected often by buyers who can afford the one that tastes good and is neat. This is not the same with goods like beans and garri; these two are quite affordable and supply high but the cost price of millet, groundnut and corn fluctuates due to the unstable supply.
“The local rice is sold from N22,000 upwards for the one without stone while the one with stone can be purchased from N17,000 upwards; some traders sell it below this cost price so as to make profit and purchase new goods and others higher depending on the market visited. The above price of the local rice is too high and we urge the government to help us make it very affordable and the price stable because some buyers cannot afford the expensive one hence we are not making better sales.”
It would be recalled that after the land border was closed in August 2019, the economy of neighbouring countries where some Nigerian traders visit to buy goods like clothing for kids, men and women, shoes, bags, jewelry and more suffered a major setback. This on the other hand, affected the traders here in Nigeria, who are now in short supply of such goods.
A trader, who sells laptop bags/backpacks, lunch bags, school bags and more, told Legit.ng that the border closure has affected her business to a large extent. Adding that she pays more to get some of her goods and struggles to sell below cost price so as to keep her business intact and not lose loyal customers.
“It is not all of us that can afford to travel by air hence we use the land border to carry out our business activities daily. Since the closure, my shop remains scanty because we no longer get imported yet affordable strong bags easily. I no longer make good sales due to the border closure. It is really difficult for us now because some traders who cannot withstand this pathetic situation have shifted their attention to selling other goods. It has affected the shoe sellers; clothe dealers, and everyone who travel to get their goods from neighbouring countries at affordable prices. The ones we get from the markets here are sometimes rejected by the buyers because they are not durable while the durable ones are very expensive beyond the reach of the ordinary man.
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“Business is at a slow and steady pace now. It is not easy; patronage is very low and market has been very dull for months now, yet I can’t close up but in other to keep it afloat I sell below cost price of the goods i'm able to purchase at any market in the state because I need to survive and take care of my family.
“Due to the change in the supply experienced so far, some businesses have close up because the traders are frustrated with the economy. With the kind of business I do, the pains of the border closure is much more than the gains,” The bag seller bemoaned.
Also reacting on the impact of the border closure in market activities, a trader who sells perishable goods lament over the slow pace of business in recent times; according to her, the purchasing power of buyers has dropped despite the affordability of the goods.
The tomato seller opined that: “The cost price of the goods I sell is not influenced by the border closure but by the weather condition and other seasonal factors. But the border closure has affected my business negatively because most of my loyal customers have abandoned me and the few who still come around, purchase goods only in small quantity as they complain over the setback experienced so far from their own end.
“Tomatoes, pepper and onion are quite affordable but patronage is very low; people are not buying like before. Business has been very slow and this has been happening before the closure but after the closure, it became worse. For the past six months I would say, nothing has changed really because the closure was appreciated by many but in terms of patronage and sales; we are only trying to get our hands busy so we won’t become a burden to our loved ones. There is no market; we are selling but not making good profit after daily sales.”
Similarly, fish sellers in the same market decry low patronage and hike in the price of fish which has resulted to poor sales.
A trader who pleaded anonymity explained thus: “The cost price of chicken, frozen or smoked fish and turkey is high now and consumers who cannot afford croaker fish or Titus fish, go for sawa, kote and panla fish. There’s been no positive change because the cost price of our goods has since increased as soon as the border was closed partially and has not dropped since last year; this has affected sales. Business is not moving as expected and only few customers patronize us daily. Others keep complaining of the economy; slow pace of business has now become the order of the day due to this development.
“It is really sad because the border closure has affected a lot in the market. My loyal customers who purchase in large quantity from me before and carry out their daily task in other neighbouring countries are no longer patronizing me now; the ones that do come purchase goods in low quantity. The government should please look into the border closure and take other measures rather than closing it permanently.”
It’s been months since the Nigerian-Benin border has been closed partially and most traders in the market are yet to come to terms with the development that took place in August 2019. As such, others are hopeful the government would reconsider and reopen it.
Whilst neighbouring countries have been urged by the federal government to take necessary measures in tackling insecurity and discontinue smuggling at the land borders; some goods are still smuggled into the country presently and are sold at a higher price as informed by traders.
As economic challenges persist in the country, traders and buyers in markets across the state awaits the next level promised by the current administration.
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