Chief Chikezie Anene, Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the South-East, has urged leadership of traders and transport unions to caution their members against increasing hardship of COVID-19 in the zone.
Anene, who is the Leader of APC South-East Support Group for President Muhammadu Buhari, made the appeal while speaking with newsmen in Enugu on Wednesday.
He said that the development was saddening even when Federal Government had reduced fuel pump price from N145 to N123.50 per litre, adding that commercial transport operators especially in Enugu had increased their fare astronomically rather than reduce it.
According to him, the same astronomical increase was applicable to prices of essential food stuffs such as garri, tubers of yam, palm oil among others.
Anene said the most shocking aspect of the ugly development was that the outrageous prices of goods and services were “introduced by our people who are Christians and it makes me to wonder the kind of Christians we have here in this part of the country.’’
“This is not Christmas season. The entire world is struggling to fight and defeat the deadly coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19 but here some of our people particularly – traders and transporters – have seen the global dilemma and tragedy as gold mine.
“But, we are not sure who is going to survive this season of death by COVID-19 and who will perish with all the quick money being made.
“The price of a 4-litre painter of local rice has moved from N1,500 to N2,500; a 4-litre painter of garri jumped from N350 to N1,500/ N1,800; while a sizeable tuber of yam which was sold at N500 or N600 now costs N800 or N1,500,’’ he lamented.
The APC Chieftain condemned the “selfish, greedy and avaricious attitude of our people who try to make quick money out of every ugly situation even when the rest of the world is burning.”
Anene described as sad and unacceptable a situation in which commercial transporters are now charging commuters between N100 and N150 from Obiagu to Abakpa what hitherto used to cost N70 or N80 within the same Enugu capital.
“While others now charge over N1000 from Enugu to Abakaliki which used to cost N500 or N600 before the COVID-19 outbreak,’’ he said.
According to him, the poor masses of the South-East did not cause coronavirus, and wondered why traders and transporters will increase the burden occasioned by COVID-19 on the poor people of the zone.
He said the leadership of the associations involved in the “selfish and greedy acts’’ owe the masses the responsibility of calling their members to order before “God’s anger will visit all of us and we will share the fate of Europe, China, America, Italy, Spain and others.
“We cannot be praying for God to rescue us from coronavirus and at the same time, we are bringing more damnation upon our people by making life very difficult for the average person in the zone,’’ Anene added.