Inhabitants of Calabar, the Cross River State capital lovers of bread as part of their daily meal schedule, are now forced to find alternative following the strike currently embarked upon by Master Baker’s in the State.
The strike which began was a one week warning industrial action to press home the demand for more supply of flour to the state which has invariably led to the high cost of the product.
Also, the Baker’s are using the strike to demand an increase in the supply of flour as flour giants were doing to neighbouring states.
Consumers in two LGAs that make up the capital city ; Calabar South & Municipality were the most affected as it also extends to other parts of the state following the shut down of both major and minor bakery’s .
Speaking with newsmen on Wednesday, Mrs Tina Odiniya, a baker and the Chief Executive Officer of LoftyPlus limited confirmed the strike saying the cost of producing bread, cakes and allied foods in Calabar has been affected by the price surge of flour and sugar.
The bakers also lamented the incessant and arbitrary increase in costs of flour by millers without prior meeting with stakeholders and shortfall in supply of the major ingredient ( flour) to the state.
She disclosed that there over 150 major bakers in Cross River state yet the Niger Mills plant which produces flour in the state only sell 900 bags to bakers in Calabar but load hundreds of trucks out of the state frequently to distributors who now resell to Calabar market at outrageous prices.
Her words:” Apart from the high cost of the flour ,we are also put through rigorous processes by the Millers to register as bakers to receive supplies. This is not tolerable,it’s unacceptable,” she said.
“What can a big bakery like mine do with 50 bags of flours per month? Likewise other bakeries in all the 18 Local Government Areas numbering well over 150?”
“We want them to satisfy us as well before taking the products to other states; Because distributors outside the state buy from them and repackage and send too us at high costs,” she bemoaned.
She said Master Baker’s in Cross River State have written officially to the Flour Manufacturer in the State for a discussion.
Speaking further ,she revealed that the price per 50kg bag of flour was now N21,000 as against N16,000.
She said:” They are selling a bag to us at N21,000. The cost of sugar and other ingredients have all increased This is affecting us drastically and many of us are shutting down.
“Consumers are complaining, not buying our breads which are later returned next day to us. We have endured for too long.”
When contacted ,Officials at Niger Mills Plc, Calabar Plant refused to speak to our Correspondent saying it was their Corporate Affairs Manager only that can speak officially. As at the time of filing this report
However an impeccable source at the Company who pleaded anonymity said their company was also affected drastically by some economic policies and realities adding that it was not entirely their fault.