Cold Spell Makes Waves in Firewood Market

Abdulaziz Al-Ruwaili
Okaz/Saudi Gazette

TABUK — The firewood market in the Kingdom is booming with the cold wave and the acute drop in temperatures in various areas of the Kingdom, especially in the northern and northwestern provinces.

According to market sources, a small truckload of firewood is sold at SR800, which cost only SR400 a few weeks ago before the advent of the winter.

They said a bundle of wood, which fetched hardly SR50 in summer, is now sold between SR180 and SR200.

The sources said the acacia wood is abundant while the other types of wood are scarce because they have already been purchased by the owners of restaurants and kitchens.

The sources attributed the price hike to increasing demand, which is usual every winter.

Vendors believe that the ban imposed by the Ministry of Agriculture on the sale of local firewood and coal has created a black market and led to illegal expatriates dominating the market.

The ban restricted the sales of the local firewood and coal to licensed traders only.

Saleem Ahmed, a Yemeni vendor, said citizens usually prefer the acacia wood, which is available in the market now.

He said the prices were increased by importers randomly and it has nothing to do with increased demand or scarcity of supply.

Shaaban Mahmoud, an importer, said the prices went up because of the recession prior to the advent of the winter season. He, however, does not believe that the prices are too high and said they are reasonable and affordable.

Suwailem Al-Hoti, a roving vendor, said the ministry’s ban of wood and coal sales was primarily targeted at street vendors. “With them driven out of the market, it is only natural for the prices to go up,” he added.

Director of the Agriculture Ministry’s branch in Tabuk Omar Faqih said the ban on the sale of local firewood and coal was in line with a decision by the Council of Ministers to prevent afforestation.

He said under the Cabinet decision, the imported firewood and coal are exempted from customs tariffs.

Faqih said a committee, comprising representatives of the ministries of agriculture, interior, and municipal and rural affairs as well as the Wildlife Conservation Authority, is monitoring the markets to make sure that only imported firewood and coal is put for sale.



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