The Guardian
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Nigerians in last minute rush for shopping, travelling


• Transport Fares, Prices Of Good Skyrocket
• ATMs, A Major Disappointment

Less than 24 hours to the celebration of Christmas, markets across the country witnessed a large turn out of customers wishing to do a last minute shopping.

Also, Automated Teller Machines (ATM) were besieged by many, who wanted to make last minute withdrawals. But unfortunately, most of the machines were not loaded with cash; forcing customers to wear grim looks.

For many residents of Benin, Edo State, they resorted to keeping vigil in the banks to use ATMs, as only few of the machines in some banks on Saturday dispense cash.

Many of the residents said they had been in some of the banks as early as 5am, to avoid the crowd that would arrive later.

They also raised concern about their suffering in getting access to the machines, which they alleged were not even fed with enough cash for the day.

For instance, Mr John Ebidah, said people had been exposed to risk all in attempt to withdraw money via ATMs. He called on the relevant authorities to urgently look into the matter, especially bank managers in Benin.

Another resident, Mr Osato Owie, alleged that the banks deliberately refused to put enough money in the machines

For traders in wears, food items and drinks, the year 2016 will go down in history as one in which they recorded abysmal decrease in sales.

Although customers were seen doing last minute rush into shops one after the other, a trader at popular Wuse market, Gabriel Chijindu said not all of them had the purchasing power; saying there was no cash flow in the country

“There is no money in the country. Government did not pay workers and many people were also sacked from their jobs this year. People dont have money to spend like in the past,” he said.

According to Chijindu, his shop used to be a beehive of activities between December 20 and 24 each year.

“My sister, I still thank God. Although things are not the way it used to be for us at this season because of the recession, we still manage to see customers coming in occasionally.  Many of them just come in, get the prices of items and move out. It is not because they don’t like to buy, I think they don’t have the money,” he said.

The story was not different at the Utako Ultra Modern Market. Food items such as fresh tomatoes, paper and vegetables littered around with few people seen bargaining.

However, popular departmental stores such as Sahad Stores and Grand Square, (majorly patronised by the elites) recorded higher turnout of customers. People were seen carting away bags of rice, Christmas hampers and other items.

In spite of the harsh economic reality however, commercial vehicle operators exploited the opportunity of the season to hike transport fares.

As at yesterday the journey from Abuja to Lagos by 18-seater bus, which went for about N4, 000 per passenger in ordinary times doubled. Passengers paid between N8, 000 and N9, 000 depending on the motor park.

The rate was almost the same for commuters travelling to the South East and South-South regions of the country. Between Monday and yesterday, the fare had gone from N4, 000 to 7,000.

But a driver of Peace Mass Transport had blamed the increase in fare to increase in fuel pump price. Other factors for the increase include high turn out of travellers, as well as, the fact that most of them return empty to Abuja.

The driver’s position was however countered by a female commuter, Mrs Obiageli Ogbu. She rather accused transporters of greed.

“It is not true that the fare was increased due to increase in pump price. After all, we have been travelling since government increased the pump price at a lower fare. I think these drivers are just greedy. They know that we have no option at this moment,” she said.

In fact, some were told to come back today on the condition that they would have booked yesterday for their journeys.

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