By Abasifreke Effiong – Uyo

Due to the lockdown of businesses, prices of food items, sachet water and Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs) have skyrocketed in Akwa Ibom state.

A survey of prices of goods at Akpan Andem market in Uyo; Afaha and Nung Udoe markets in Ibesikpo Asutan local government; shops, supermarkets and pharmacies in Uyo shows that prices of food items and PPEs have gone up by about 40 percent.

The Akwa Ibom state government ordered closure of all businesses except shops selling essential food items and pharmaceutical products with effect from Monday. The order was part of measures to control the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.

READ : Akwa Ibom proposes 30 years development plan, cuts overhead, capital expenditure in 2020 budget

Prices of food items in Akwa Ibom state gone up phenomenally on Monday and Tuesday, barely 48 hours after the state government announced the lockdown.

The price of a basket of tomato went up by N5,000 from N17,000, at Akpan Andem market in Uyo, Akwa Ibom state.

Prices of food, sachet water, PPEs skyrocket in Akwa Ibom Mr. Udom Emmanuel, Governor of Akwa Ibom state.

Some restaurant operators who were at the Akpan Andem market on Monday morning to buy tomatoes when The Dune monitored the prices of food items in the market were confounded by the overnight increase in the price of the commodity.

READ ALSO : 34 suspected COVID-19 cases in Plateau turned out negative

With the N5,000 increase, a big basket of tomatoes sold for N22,000 as at Monday 30th March.

The prices of yam, rice and beans have also gone up exponentially.

The size of a tuber of yam that sold for N1000 two weeks ago now goes for N1,400.

A yam seller by the road side at Akpan Andem market by Udo Umana, said the price increase was due to the Coronvirus pandemic.

RELATED STORY : COVID-19: Ughelli North shuts markets, warns against hike in food stuff

“Have you not heard of this kaduna (as she pronounced it) virus?”, she asked this reporter when he sought to know the reason for such high cost.

A 50kg bag of rice has gone up from N19,000 a fortnight ago to N23,000 and N22,500 at Akpan Andem market and rice stores at Nyong Essien street, Uyo.

At Nung Udoe and Afaha markets in Ibesikpo Asutan local government the prices garri and beans have gone up too.

Imesco, a member of foodstuff traders association in Ibesikpo Asutan who sells garri at Nung Udoe market told The Dune on Monday that garri (the quality they call baby face) is now five cups for N200, while the less finer quality is six cups (7cm) for N200.

“Baby face” sold for 6 cups/N200 at Nung Udoe and Afaha markets, before last week.

At Mbiabong market which is close to Shelter Afrique – a highbrow residential estate in Uyo – garri sold for three cups/N200 for the fine quality, and four cups/N200 for the less finer quality.

However, our checks reveal that 100kg bag of garri goes for N22,500 as at Wednesday 1st April, at Nung Udoe market, against N20,000 on Monday 30th March, at the same market.

The price of beans went up a bit at Afaha market on Tuesday. Two weeks ago, five cups of ‘iron’ beans sold at N200 in the market, but it was N50 per cup, four cups for N200 on Tuesday 31st March.

RELATED STORY : Traders groan under corrupt, exploitive revenue regime at Nung Udoe, Akwa Ibom market

The price of a bag of water containing 20 sachets of 50cl has gone up from N100 to N150 and N170 in Uyo.

Last week, distributors of popular brands of sachet water like, Uniuyo water and Usmer water sold a bag for N150; while brands like Ella, Merneke, Emprebs sold at N130 per bag.

As at Tuesday night, supermarkets in the state capital were selling a bag of sachet water for N150.

Manager of a sachet water depot on Oron road, Uyo, who did not want his name on paper said the increase in the price of sachet water was as a result of the shortfall in supply of nylon use for bagging the water.

“The nylon used to package this water is longer in the market. Factories in Aba, Onitsha and Lagos have closed because of this pandemic.”

However, Personal Protective Equipments particularly disposable nose mask, hand gloves and hand sanitizers have cost dearly in shops and pharmacies even though no person from the state has tested positive with COVID-19.

Akwa Ibom state is yet to have a centre where people can test for Coronavirus. However, individuals and some local government councils in the state are providing PPEs to households as the scare of the COVID-19 pandemic hits harder.

Prices of food, sachet water, PPEs skyrocket in Akwa Ibom From right : Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem, Secretary to Akwa Ibom state government; Mr. Ndiana-Abasi Nana Udom, SSA (Multilateral and Donor Agencies) to Governor Udom Emmanuel, receiving a donation in support of the fight against COVID-19, from UBA.

Last weekend, a packet of the non – sterile latex examination gloves containing 100 pieces, sold for N4000 in wholesale shops in Uyo, while a packet of un- medicated, disposable nose mask containing 50 pieces sold for N10,000.

Popular pharmacies including Queenthall and Pharma Blaze in Uyo, were selling the un -medicated nose mask for N250 each on Monday while the medicated nose mask sold for N400.

Despite, the sudden increase in the prices of food items and PPEs, the Akwa Ibom state government has not provided any palliatives, either in food, cash or PPEs to her citizens.

TRENDING STORY: COVID19: Provide palliatives to poor Nigerians, health workers – Policy Alert tells FG

However, last week the state government announced the payment of salary for the month of March to civil servants in the state.

The United Bank for Africa (UBA) on Monday, 30th March, donated N28.5 million in cheque to the Akwa Ibom state government in support of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.