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The strike action embarked upon by the cattle and foodstuff dealers under the aegis of the Amalgamated Union of Foodstuff and Cattle Dealers of Nigeria (AUFCDN) has driven up prices of beef, food and vegetables in the South.
AUFCDN, an affiliate of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) commenced a nationwide strike Thursday following the expiration of a seven-day ultimatum given to the federal government to attend to their demands.
The Union is demanding protection of its members, payment of N475 billion compensation for lives of members and properties lost during the #EndSARS protest and the Shasa market crisis in Ibadan. It also demands the dismantling of all roadblocks on federal highways where their members are harassed and money extorted from them by the authorities.
The strike entails closing all routes between the North and South for vehicles conveying cattle and food items. Such vehicles are stopped from reaching the Southern region.
Butchers in the South who still have stock have capitalised on the strike to hike prices. So have sellers in perishable food items shipped from the North.
Lagos is one of the states worst hit. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had at the commissioning of a new semi-mechanized abattoir for cows and goats in Bariga recently said that the state consumes over 50 per cent of animal production in Nigeria.
A kilo of beef that sold for N1, 200 to N1, 500 before the strike now sells for N2, 000. A basket of tomato, which sold between N4, 000 to N6, 000 before now, ranges between N13, 000 to N15,000.
The chairman of United Butchers of Lagos State Abattoir Complex, Oko-Oba in Agege, Abdullahi Ahmed, said that before the strike, about 1,000 cows were slaughtered daily at the abattoir while close to 1,500 cows were slaughtered on Saturdays.
“Now, we cannot slaughter up to 200 because there are no cows. What we are slaughtering are the ones being reared here and they are small,” he said.
Ahmed told Daily Trust that the three cows he slaughtered on Saturday were bought at N630, 000. “I saw someone buy one cow at N900, 000 on Saturday. The situation is very terrible,” he said.
It was also learnt that less than five cows were slaughtered at Odo-Eran, in Ojo Cantonment on Saturday.
Daily Trust observed that many have turned to fish while those who had planned to buy fresh pepper and tomatoes for storage purposes could no longer do so.
Chineye Okoroafor, a trader at the Agbara market, a border community in Ogun State, said that dealers have resorted to hoarding goods.