RISING domestic gas prices have forced poor families in Kebbi and Nasarawa states to resort to the use of charcoal, which may add to the depletion of the forests and heighten climate change crisis.
The sudden price jerk has seen gas price rising beyond reach. For example, the 3kg which normally sells for N1,750, now goes for N3500, while the 5kg pack which was being sold for N2,900 is being offered at N5800.
Arewa Voice correspondents in the two states report that the sudden jump in the prices of domestic gas has left poor families with no option than to hit the bushes in search of firewood and charcoal for their energy needs.
It was also learnt that the high cost of cooking gas price has resulted in the emergence of mini and major charcoal sales points with huge patronage from low and middle income earners in Kebbi and Nasarawa states.
One of our correspondents counted many charcoal outlets piling up in the state capital and the local government areas in their bid to bridge the gap between cooking gas users and charcoal users.
In one of the charcoal outlet in Badariya area of Bernin Kebbi, a dealer, Bello Abdullah, confirmed that charcoal boom began during the rainy season when they can hardly secure enough firewood but that the situation has been compounded with the high cost of gas which an average family cannot afford.
Abdullahi said he makes more sales from firewood following the increased demand and has had to hire three others to join in selling firewood and charcoal.
He said: “I have three boys who assist me in packaging the charcoal into bags for easy sale to buyers after we bring it from Sandare, Dadin Kowa and Tilli”, he said.
At the Wangarawa gas distribution outlet in Birnin Kebbi, the assistant manager, Alhaji Abdullahi Wangarawa, lamented the inexplicable and unstable gas prices in recent months and regretted that the development was causing low patronage for them.
A resident of Agwatashi, one of the communities in Obi Local Government Area of Nasarawa State hit by gas shortage and price jerk, Mrs. Maria Ogbole, said since the hike in the price of gas, she had returned to the use of firewood for her domestic uses, adding: “Life has been difficult for members of my family because my husband has been jobless for many years.
“We used to refill our 5kg with N1, 500 but now, the price has gone as high as N3, 500 which has made it difficult for us to afford”.
Usman Tanko, a father of eight, said that the situation was worrisome as he could no longer afford the purchase of gas, thereby resorting to charcoal and firewood.
Reacting to the development, the state chairman of the Association of charcoal Producers of Nigeria, Alfred Alogala, attributed the increase in the price of gas to the high cost of production.
According to him, Nigerians were yet to recover from the hardship caused by the COVID-19 pandemic which almost crippled the economy of the country and rendered many people jobless.