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Rivers residents embark on panic buying of food items over border closure

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Following government’s restriction of movements in all entry points to Rivers State, its residents have embarked on panic buying of food items and other essentials.

Consequently, traders have increased prices of foodstuff and other items in markets across the state.

However, the increase in prices of rice, beans, fish, meat, water and drugs, among others, was not traceable to the recent fall in oil price, but The Guardian observed that traders who had stocks suddenly hiked the prices following state government’s announcement of closure of all entry points to the state.

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A visit to the Mile Three, Mile One, Town and Sangana markets showed that some women were selling a medium custard container of crayfish, which sold for N2000 last week at N5000, while others sold for between N6000 and N7000.

A 25kg bag of local rice also rose from N10000 to N15000, while some sold for N12000 and 50kg cost N30000, as the same was observed for the prices of provisions, vegetables and meat.

Inquiries on why traders in the same market were selling same items at different prices, some of them said, everyone sells as they liked because there was uncertainty everywhere.

But in spite of the sharp increase in prices, residents trooped to markets to buy food items and other necessary materials in large quantities in the event of eventual shutdown of the state.

The popular Oil Mill Market, which hosts traders from different parts of the country on Wednesdays, had been shutdown just as the Choba Market around the University of Port Harcourt was closed.

Since the outbreak of Coronavirus, Governor Nyesom Wike has been addressing the people almost on daily basis in live broadcasts where new measures are being deployed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the state.

Wike explained that the measures became necessary because the lives of Rivers people were important to the government, assuring that his administration would do everything possible to ensure that the people were protected.

Meanwhile, some of the residents who spoke to The Guardian stressed the need for government to monitor and check arbitrarily increases in the prices of food items, thereby making life more difficult for the people.

A resident, Amos Woke, said, “It is sad that Nigerians take advantage of ugly situations to punish their fellow citizens whereas in foreign countries, people slash prices of items to help one another since the outbreak of Coronavirus, why are things like this in Nigeria?

A woman sighted with one tuber of yam, Mrs. Agnes Dibia, said, “I heard government has closed all the borders and I have only N1000 in my house, so I came to buy things, but unfortunately, what I was only able to buy a tuber of yam.”

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