Hawkers of sachet water in Edo State, popularly known as “pure water,” took to the streets of Benin on Thursday to protest against the increase in the price of a bag of sachet water from N120 to N180.
The traders, who carried empty containers, marched from the busy Ring Road to the Government House, chanting “we no go gree” and called for government intervention.
One of the sellers, Mrs. Vivian Osula, said many of them were shocked when the dealers of the product informed them of the extra N60 added to the price.
Osula, who told our correspondent that she had been selling sachet water for almost 20 years, lamented that the new price would be a great burden to many of them who were the breadwinners of their families.
She also said her customers had refused to buy a sachet of water for N20 due to the increase.
“Those we buy from told us this morning (Thursday) that a bag of sachet water is now N180. We get only N20 as profit per bag and that is what I use to feed my children.
“We sell at Oba Market and people have refused to buy. I am begging the government to intervene. If people do not buy, it will affect me; my children will have no money to eat because it is our source of living,” the 35-year-old mother said.
Another protester, Mrs. Osas Osabhoyan, said she was told that the price was increased to N150, in spite of the levies they were subjected to by fee collectors in different markets in the state capital.
She said, “We used to buy a bag for N100 and we pay for fees. At Oba Market, we pay N40. If we go to Lagos Street, we pay N40. Last week, a bag was increased to N120.
“But surprisingly, when we got to the market yesterday (Wednesday), we were told that it had been increased to N180. They did not explain why, so we said that we would not accept it because we pay levies and feed our children from our profit.”
But the Association of Table Water Producers said it was not aware of any increase in the price of the product, adding that the hike might be due to the impact of market forces.
The Edo State Chairman, Mr. Henry Eiremiokhae, said, “I am not aware of that. The official price is N120; we just added N20 to the N100 that we used to sell it to meet up with the high cost of production. We run our facilities on generators.
“Market forces may be responsible for the increase because a number of factories are not working due to their inability to source for raw materials.”