Naira Scarcity: “We’ve Been Throwing Our Rotten Goods Away, Selling Others At Low Prices – Petty Traders Lament

Traders of perishable foods and fruits across the country have lamented the negative effects the naira swap policy of the Central Bank of Nigeria has had on their sales.

This is following the scarcity of the new naira notes across the country which has denied Nigerians access to the monies to make transactions.

Many of them have had to sell off their items at far lower prices than they actually got them to prevent them from getting spoilt and incurring total loss on the items.

Bank customers on a daily basis, secure matress spaces on bare floors at banks ATM stands to keep vigil, in the thin hope that monies will be stored in them. Many of them are petty traders who need money to buy goods to sell.

Many of their customers have gone into forced starvation as they are unable to get funds to buy food stuffs to feed themselves and their families as well as meet other important needs, despite having money in their accounts, while traders.

While many banks and their ATM machines have remained closed to customers as the officials claimed unavailability of cash, the few that are open, limit the amount of cash a customer can withdraw to between N2,000 and N5,000.

The scarcity has also affected POS services. Many POS centers are no more opening due to their inability to get cash to transact business, others who able to get cash for transaction, charge customers commission between ten to thirty percent of the amount they want to withdraw.

Many traders and customers even complain that electronic and online transactions are either failed or operational, leading to unnecessary altercations between them.

The CBN had initially insisted that the old N200, N500 and N1000 Naira notes are no more legal tender, adding that only the new notes are valid for transactions, thereby flouting a Supreme Court ruling that the status quo remained pending the determination of the suit against the policy.

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However, on Wednesday, President Muhammadu Buhari’s in a nationwide address on February 16, announced that asides the newly redesigned notes of N200, N500 and N1,000 as legal tender, only the N200 old notes should remain in circulation until April 10, in continued defiance of the court pronouncement.

The cash crunch has led to reduction of business transactions and loss in sales for traders as well as low patronage from customers. Hence, their perishable food items get spoilt after staying too long up for sale.

Malam Isah, who displayed some spoilt fruits for sale, lamented that buyers didn’t patronise him because his fruits no longer looked fresh, as he blamed the scarcity of naira for his predicament. Hence, he said he has resorted to selling his fruits at discounted rates.

A vegetable seller, simply know as Charity, disclosed that she had to be throwing away her rotten produce following low patronage from customers, all due to the scarcity of cash.

Another trader, Tina Okafor said customers who usually buy large quantities of vegetables from her, now buy less than due to their limited cash.

“One of my regular customers yesterday asked me to sell N500 Ugwu to her on credit and that she will pay me N600 when next she comes to the market.

“Because I had barely sold anything, I was forced to give her, but I know she will pay me back,” she said.

A food vendor, simply known as Nana said the past few weeks had been the lowest for her, in terms of sales. as customers customers no longer patronise her as usual.

She said, “I was accepting bank transfers but there were some transactions I made last week, and till now, I have not received the money. Also, withdrawing the money to take to the market is another challenge. That was why I stopped receiving transfers.

“I have even cut down the amount of food I prepare daily, because I had some leftovers last week. Customers are no longer coming in as much,’’ she said.

Richard, a customer at one of the markets, said he came to the market to buy foodstuff but got stranded because of inadequate cash.

“I just realised the money I brought to the market to buy soup ingredients wouldn’t be enough, and now I might be unable to buy meat. Is this how we want to continue in this country when we have a government?” he asked.

“The Automated Teller Machines (ATMs), long queues at banks and lack of money at Point of Sale (POS) centres have made it difficult for everyone,” he said.

A trader in tomatoes, peppers, and fruits at the Ketu market, Abebi Saka lamented his daily lack of sales which has gotten her goods rootten, leading to debts for her.

She also lamented the poor transaction through transfers, as she narrated her sour experience on January 31, when one of her customers out of pity, wanted to buy her tomotes which was already getten spoilt.

According to her, although the customer’s account showed that the transfer was sucessful, the credit however wasn’t reflected in her account until Monday, February 6, 2023.

She also lamented that she had to sell some of her perishable goods at give away prices, much lower than its actual cost in order to make few sales and at least, to have cash at hand.

A meat seller, Auwal Mohammed, disclosed that he decided to close his shop pending when the new naira notes will be available. According to him, he arrived at the decision after he had spent three days at the ATM to withdraw only N5,000 from his sales.

“I suffered to get that N5,000. I was on queue at the ATM. They pushed me one day and I sustained injury on my hand,” he narrated, while also lamenting the difficulty in feeding his family of seven.

A fruit seller, Motunrayo Agbaje, lamented that she had been throwing out her goods for days because she wasn’t selling and they were spoiling.

A fruit trader, Isa Yusuf disclosed that he hadn’t made sales for the past four days saying, “I don’t know what to do. Those who patronise me don’t have cash and I don’t accept bank transfers.”

A tomato seller at Mararaba market, Ismail Ibrahim, said the scarcity of cash makes him go a whole day without making sales and when his tomato stock is about to get rotten the following day, he sells them off to low-income earners at low prices leading to huge loss for him.

A supermarket owner, known as Vero has been having difficultly in restocking her shop because of low sales.

“I usually restock my shop every first weekend of the month, but I could not do so this month. Sales have not been favourable in the past two weeks. People are complaining that they do have money.’’

“I accept only cash from customers, getting cash from the bank is difficult and we cannot rely on these PoS agents because they are now inconsistent. They are also affected,’’ she said.