Ernest Chinwo in Port Harcourt
Fears of bread scarcity has heightened in Rivers State as bakers in the state have embarked on a one-week warning strike to government attention to the increasing cost of baking materials.

The bakers, under the aegis of the Association of Master Bakers and Caterers of Nigeria, Rivers State chapter, have also called on the federal government to intervene in the high cost of materials used for baking, occasioned by the continued rise of the dollar.

The state Chairman of the Association, Mr. Kolawole Adelegan, disclosed this on Tuesday to newsmen after a meeting of the association in Port Harcourt.

Adelegan, who read out the resolution of the body from a text he jointly signed with the union’s Secretary, Bartholomew Nkachi, said yesterday’s meeting was in continuation of its congress held on March 1, 2016 where the body considered withdrawing its services.

He said: “It was unanimously agreed and mandated that, hence the rapid rise of the dollar has adversely affected the bakery industry, we have no other alternative than for the union to withdraw our services starting from Saturday, March 5, 2016 to Saturday, March 12, 2016 to enable us maintain our industry by following the trend of events and keeping back our business.”

While calling on all bakers and caterers in the industry across the state (Rivers) to join what it termed ‘sympathetic movement’ he said defaulters would be sanctioned, including expulsion from the state.

The statement explained that, “a bag of flour that cost for N6, 800 now sells for N10,000, while butter that sells for N3,800 now cost N5, 000.

“Also, yeast that previously sold for N6,500 now sells for N10,000. Sugar that sold for N7,500 is now purchased for N11,000, while 20 liters of ground nut oil ‎that sold for between N4, 000 and N5,000, is now N10,000,” it lamented
“All of these in addition to the high cost of fuel makes it difficult for us to continue in business.

“We therefore called for the intervention of the federal government ‎to look into the increasing prices of these baking materials which are mainly imported, to enable us remain in business or else many bakeries would be closed,” the statement warned.
While regretting the  hardship its action might cause bread consumers and other Nigerians in the state, Adelegan pointed out that the strike would be sustained ‎until government heeds the appeal of the bakers.