Residents of Abuja are currently facing challenges over the continuous hike in the cost of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and kerosene. DEBORAH OCHENI reports.
The average family in Nigeria eats three times daily and this implies preparing different meals each time to meet the nutritional needs of the household.
It is a known fact that meals except for fruits and vegetable salads must be cooked for them to be palatable. In recent months, many families in Abuja have been facing serious challenges in terms of the availability and affordability of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and kerosine. These two items are the fuels that power every kitchen except in the rural communities where the use of firewood is still common.
It is a common knowledge that’s six kilogram cylinder of gas which used to cost between N1,800 and N2,000 at the beginning of the year,now sells for N5,100. The same goes for other cylinder grades.
Available statistics shows that the cost has risen by over a hundred per cent in the last three months of the year. So, with the cost of cooking gas and kerosine hitting the roof, many households have been deploying various tactics to survive. Inside Abuja went to town to feel the pulse of the families and find out what alternative fuel they are using to prepare their meals.
The survey also took Inside Abuja to the people involved in the retailing and distribution of cooking gas as well as kerosene.
According to one of the distributors at A.A Rano Gas Station in Karu, one of the major processors and distributors of LPG in Abuja, Abdul Mustapha, a primary cause of the problem is that 60 per cent of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) consumed in Nigeria is imported.
Mustapha maintained that his company had steadily pursued LPG adoption and penetration within the localities around her gas refilling plants. He also disclosed that the company had aggressively pursued cost and margin cutting measures aimed at making the product more available and affordable in its catchment areas.
Mustapha expressed concern that despite the Federal Government’s efforts to deepen the adoption of LPG, which had been yielding results, the recent uncontrollable price in the LPG market price curve remains a major threat to the domestic LPG market.
“We can boldly see this through the high demand for the product. The gains we have recorded, which now make more people demand gas shows that we have done well as a country in terms of gas. Unfortunately, the recent uncontrollable price in the LPG market price curve is a major threat to the domestic LPG market,” he said.
Rhoda, a private school teacher lamented that she is not finding it easy purchasing gas to cook for the family. She added that she has been exploring other options but none is cheap. “We are really facing hard times as a low income earner. The prices of Liquefied Petroleum Gas is so high and I wanted to opt for kerosene stove but I just made a u-turn when I heard that a liter of kerosene is 1200.
“Long before now, I use charcoal to cook in my house and then I was buying a bag of charcoal as low as N1200 and I will serve me for almost three (3 ) months but I was shocked to my bones when I heard a bag of charcoal is now N6000 in Abuja.
I really do not know where we are heading to in his country because I am just a private school teacher and my husband lost his job during the covid- 19 lockdown, we have children that we are finding it difficult to feed,” Rhoda said. Celina Adejoh, a business woman that resides in Kurudu, a suburb of Abuja, noted that the high cost of cooking gas has become a new normal which families have no choice.
“We have adjusted to the new reality, gas is expensive no doubt, but if you compared it to other alternatives, you will discover that it’s still a cheaper option. Imagine kerosene sold for over a thousand naira per litter and charcoal about six thousand naira a bag.
“The only people that may not feel this heat much are those using postpaid meter because electricity supply is improved these days so they can use electricity to cook.
But for me, I’m using pre-paid meters and unit runs faster when using electric cooker so we have resorted to using gas. I remembered when we used to fill 12.5 KG cylinder at N3,700 but now it is as high as 11,000 but I still prefer to use it,” she said
No easy way out
Kelechi Uzo, mother of three (3) children said she is confused over the alternative to settle for as she has tried all and none is cheap .
“Truth be told it has not been easy but we thank God for His help so far because I don’t even know how we have been surviving ever since. Everything is expensive, food stuff is quite expensive and there is no cheap means of cooking it either.
“There is no option I haven’t explored and I’m even confused because I don’t know which to settle for. I started with kerosene, later to gas although, gas was affordable then but when the price of cooking gas moved upward and that was why I resorted to charcoal and firewood. I still prefer to use firewood and charcoal because whenever I am ready to cook I can buy charcoal N100 and firewood with 200 naira.
Some people said they cannot buy 5 pieces of firewood at N200 but I don’t have option because N200 cannot fill gas or buy kerosene or electric unit that can cook,” Uzo said.
Rebecca john, a civil servant said she prefers using cooking gas because it makes cooking fast.
“Considering my schedule as a working class woman, I focus more on using gas because it’s easier and faster for me. I cook food that my children will take to school every morning on weekdays and I can’t be blowing charcoal that early morning. So, I just use gas and its fast enough. “I navigate to charcoal by weekend to prepare stew and cook beans in large quantity that will be enough for us throughout the week.
So, I consume less gas because I also use microwave to heat up the food sometimes,” she said. Rebecca noted that she has never tried the kerosene option because she did not have kerosene stove and cannot stand the smoke that comes from firewood, “I have never used kerosene stove all my life and same goes for firewood because I cannot stand the smoke that comes from it,” she said. She advised that people can fill their gas cylinder with as low as 2kg quantity of gas to keep them going.
“I understand that LPG is so expensive now but you can get as little quantity as 2kg at smaller rate. So, instead of complaining so much they should get what they can afford per time, when things stabilizes, they can fill up their cylinders..
“Those who feel comfortable with the alternatives available should please stick to it. Most importantly, we should continue praying that God will re – base our economy and give us godly leaders that will address the plight of the masses” she concluded.