This is not the best time for the urban poor, especially residents of Lagos and Ogun states as the prices of charcoal and firewood have gone up by 100 per cent.
The development, it was gathered, was triggered by the astronomical increase in the price of 12.5kg Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG), popularly known as cooking gas, by 200 per cent, from N3,000 to N9,000 between January and November.
The Group Managing Director of Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Malam Mele Kyari, at a forum on Tuesday, had blamed the hike in prices of cooking gas global crunch on gas supply of gas, adding that many countries are now threatened by lack of supply.
He, however, assured that the company was working on increasing local production to meet the needs of consumers.
The fear among consumers and even stakeholders is that the price of 12.5kg cylinder of LPG may jump above N10,000 mid-December unless steps are taken to boost local supply to the market.
Investigations show that the price of a bag of charcoal for cooking jumped by 68 per cent to N4,200 in November, from N2,500 in June.
Also, the price of firewood in Lagos and Ogun communities such as Agbado, Ayobo, Ojoo, Ikotun, Isheri, Akute, Magboro, Mowe and Ofada, among others, have also gone up.
Blaming the situation on the rising cost of cooking gas, a residents in Magboro, Mrs Bola Ajayi, a food vendor, said a bag of charcoal, which she bought in October at a cost of N2,500, when cooking gas price rose to N9,000 per 12.5kg cylinder, is now selling between N4,200 and N4,500, depending on locations/ retailers.
Another resident in Ojodu, Lagos State, who identified herself simply as Mrs Dawodu, said it was even difficult to get firewood to cook, adding that charcoal, which is not environmentally friendly, is gaining ground among residents as alternative to LPG for cooking.
According to her, a bucket’s paint of charcoal now cost N500 in the locality as against N300 it was sold in September. In Ofada axis of Ogun State, a resident said that young boys and girls now comb farmlands and construction sites for firewood.
Speaking on Tuesday, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Association of Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketers (NALPGAM), Bassey Essien, while attributing inadequate supply of the product into the domestic market, said forex issues and re-imposition of Value Added Tax (VAT) on imported LPG were additional challenges.
He urged the Federal Government and its agencies to address the situation.
Also speaking, National Operations Controller, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN), Mike Osatuyi, said the main issues concerning cooking gas was that local production is not enough, as he blamed rising cost of LPG on forex.