The smuggling of rice through the land borders has continued to thrive in Badagry area of Lagos State in spite of the Federal Government’s ban on the practice.
Markets along Badagry Expressway close to Seme border, are stocked with various varieties of smuggled rice, especially as the Christmas season approaches.
A smuggler, who identified himself as Sunday Egeseme, was seen offloading bags of rice from his car at Alaba Rago Market in Okokomaiko area of Lagos.
He described the business as ‘lucrative’.
“We are messengers to the main owners of the goods who are in the Seme border.
“Transporting rice from Seme to customers in various location of the town is a fast moving business with good returns,” Egeseme said.
He, however, declined to say the exact amount it cost to ferry a bag of the commodity.
Egeseme, a driver, said that the Christmas period was the peak of the business as many families depended more on the consumption of rice.
At Doyin Bus Stop market before Navy Gate Market, Okokomaiko, a trader who could not find space at the Alaba rice market, was seen taking delivery of the product from smugglers.
A driver simply known as Taiwo, who was exchanging banters with his colleagues for a successful trip, said his target was to make a lot of money before the end of the season.
“I run three trips before morning breaks and two in the day time if the road is good.
“The security officers are there but we still find our way unless one is a new person on the route,” Taiwo said.
Mrs Celine Ukachi, a rice seller at the Navy Gate Rice Market, said, “we are used to selling the Cotonou rice because it is easy to get than the local ones.
“If we see the local ones, we sell together with the Cotonou one so that everybody who wants anyone can buy,” Ukachi said.
The trader also claimed she had been in the business for four years.
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has said that it could not commence the sale of its lake rice on December 15 as earlier planned.
The Special Adviser on Food Security to Governor Akinwumi Ambode, Mr Sanni Okanlawan, said in Lagos that the rice would now be on sale from next week
The government had planned to sell the rice at N13, 000 per 50kg bag at the 57 Local Government and Local Council Development area headquarters from Dec. 15.
Okanlawon said that the government was installing mechanisms for Lagosians to celebrate the best Yuletide without hiccups posed by moneybags.
“We are working out the modalities to make sure that what the government intends to sell at N13, 000 was not hijacked and sold to Lagosians at N15,000, that is what we do not want.
“From all indications, hopefully, by next week Lake Rice will be out, so, we want everything to be in place before it is out,” Okanlawan said.
LASG had on December 8 promised that it was ready to roll out Lake Rice on December 15 to Lagosians at N13,000 per 50 kg towards the Yuletide celebrations.
The Special Adviser made the disclosure during the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry National Agriculture Stakeholders Summit.
“Lake Rice is the acronym of both Lagos and Kebbi States joint product which will be out to the public on December 15 at a cost of N13, 000 per 50kg bag as it is already subsidised by the government.
“To make it more available, the rice will be sold at the 57 LGA’s and LCDA’s for easy accessibility and to guard against unwanted persons diverting the product, the state has put in place a committee.
The Lagos State had in March signed an MoU with the Kebbi State Government to produce rice paddy to be milled and packaged in Lagos State.