Bread and Water Sale in UI: What are SMEs Saying?

by Tolu Adeyeye

According to an SME owner in the IndyHall of residence, the University management successfully attempted to monopolise the sale of bread and water “about four or five years ago”. This simply meant that SMEs in UI were only supplied bread and water sold to the students from the school. To make this enforceable and for it to be strictly adhered to, the Management of UI placed the penalty of a fine on anyone caught selling bread or water that wasn’t produced by UI ventures.

Does UI Have Plans For Monopolizing Bread And Water Supply?

Although for about two years, we haven’t heard much of such, it seems like UI is once again planning on monopolising the sale and supply of water and bread in the University community. Speaking to an SME owner in Indy hall (the owner of Grace and Mercy Market), it was gathered that she had been struggling to get sachet water to sell to the students because UI wanted to be the only supplier of the product to SMEs.  According to her, while she has no choice but to wait for the water supply from the ventures, the facility for water production in the university has produced and supplied little or no quantity of water. The same was said of the UI bread, as there were little or low supplies of the only brand of bread she was supposed to sell. 

To confirm this, our correspondent spoke to an SME owner at the faculty of tech, who was very reluctant to give us answers. She did however confirm that she only sold UI water because of the school’s stipulations. When asked if she had tried to sell any other type of water, she stared at the few bags of sachet water on the floor and shook her head to say she had not bought or sold any water that was not from the University venture.

Speaking to another trader in Indy hall, he claimed that although the school management made a rule that prohibited the sale of other brands of bread and water years ago, the rule had been erased, and other brands actively supply them. According to him, when they were still made to follow these rules, some traders, especially those who had cars, tried to smuggle in bread, bottled, and sachet water from outside the school. He continued to describe how it was not very effective, and how impromptu raids often meant trouble for those that sell it.

During our interview with these SME owners, we were unable to pinpoint if truly the management was already monopolising the supply of bread and water or otherwise. The traders we interviewed either confirmed this theory or were simply unaware of it. We can’t, however, throw this under the carpet. It is only logical that the University management attempts this, for the sake of generating internal revenue.  

What Does UI Monopolizing Sales Of Water Bread Mean For SME Owners?

The trader in Independence hall, who first laid her complaint, blamed the poor management and coordination of these ventures for the low supply of these things. She suggests that as a university, UI can do better. Given that the University has made no such attempt if they eventually do, the question remains ‘will the ventures be able to keep up with production and supply? Of course, if they cannot do this, it will mean a loss for the traders.  Apart from loss from the low supply of bread and water, there is another reason these traders might be at risk of experiencing loss.

Talking to Lady D, another SME owner in Awo hall, she spoke about how it was five years ago when UI had just started monopolising the sales of goods. Not only was the supply low, the quality of products that were questionable. She had described the bread as being no different from cassava in texture and taste. For the water, she explained that the students reacted negatively to it and so most didn’t buy it and opted instead for tap water in the halls. Although the quality of the bread has been improved, not the same can be said about the water. To date, the students are running away from UI water. Monopolising these goods without quality management would subject the traders to loss, and the students to consuming brand products.  

Not many students are tolerant of these things, and it is only human for us to search for an alternative where our only option is just not good enough. Students might purchase water and bread from vendors outside the school to get what they want at a better quality.

The idea of monopolising the sale of bread and water in the University is brilliant as it would help the University generate more funds. However, this move may be counterproductive, if the goods are of low quality and the venture cannot cater to the demand load. It is therefore expedient that the University adopts strategies and makes sure that they are on the right track to a successful monopoly before they make any move.



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