Year-End Shoppers, Travellers Report Price Jumps, Gouging
By Chuks Emele and Sahabi Abdul
Nigerians shopping for Christmas and New Year festivities as well as those traveling for the holidays are reporting highers costs and price gouging for everything from clothes, food items, to bus and air tickets.
In a year in which double-digit inflation prevailed to remain at least 5 percentage points above regulatory targets at 14.40 percent, it worsens the steady erosion of the purchasing power of most citizens.
“It’s usual that prices tend to jump towards Christmas as people rush to make purchases for the coming festivities, ” said Biodun Oni, a Lagos-based economic consultant. “Add to that the momentum gathered by inflation over the course if the year, and the result is what we’re having now.”
Inflation peaked at 18.17 percent in March, and has continued to slow since then, recording 14.40 percent in November. Yet the rate of price rises in November was higher than year before and well above the 6-9 percent band that is the official target of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
Some of the highest jumps have been with transportation costs, as people leave major cities such as Lagos, Abuja and several others to join friends and relations in other cities or the countryside to mark Christmas and the end of another year.
A bus ticket from Lagos to Onitsha in the southeast currently costs as much as 21,000 naira from previous costs averaging 8,000 naira. Those going further to places like Port Harcourt, Owerri, Aba and Calabar have to pay more. Steep prices similarly await those traveling to the northern part of the country from coastal cities.
More outrageous to many consumers have been the prices put on air tickets. Demand for air travel, which usually increases in December due to increased movement by Nigerians as well as those returning from the diaspora.
A one-way ticket from Lagos to Owerri currently goes for between 95,000 naira and 120,000 naira, where available, as againstl 33,000 naira for less pressed destinations. Similarly high costs are being charged for routes such as Lagos to Enugu, Abuja to Owerri and Port Harcourt.