Following the relaxation of the lockdown which was necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, life has returned to Eke Awka Market with commercial activities resuming in earnest after one month of inactivity. Reports Chioma Ndife.
The biggest market in Awka, Anambra State capital, in line with the directive issued by Governor Willie Obiano, had been shut down in the wake of measures rolled out by the Government against the coronavirus pandemic.
It will be recalled that the lockdown order issued by Governor Willie Obiano grounded all commercial activities in the state and brought about the closure of the market, together with other markets in the state. Foodstuff markets were however allowed to operate to enable people to purchase food items during the lockdown period.
Eke Awka Market, as well as other markets in Anambra State, was however reopened on Monday, 4th May, after the appointment and training of a Covid-19 Task Force that would enforce World Health Organisation’s WHO’s, directives on social distancing, washing of hands, use of hand sanitiser and face masks.
Fides gathered during a visit at the market that it was operating without the observance of the WHO guidelines as people interacted freely and no room was created for social distancing in most of the shops visited.
Fides also observed that the use of face masks which the governor mandated people to put on while leaving their homes, was flouted by many traders and buyers in the market, while the few individuals who had theirs placed it at their jaws, leaving the nose and mouth parts open.
Speaking to Fides on the non-usage of face masks, Emmanuel Onu, a trader at Eke Awka Garage, said he preferred to move about without a face mask as doing so made him feel caged and uncomfortable.
He however said its usage would be gradually adopted by people through strict enforcement. He advocated for offenders to be punished, even as he maintained that he had been practicing constant hand washing, usage of the hand sanitisers and avoidance of crowded areas.
A trader at Concord Line, Eke Awka, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that none of the trained Convid-19 Task Force members in Eke Awka briefed the traders on what was expected of them.
He noted that most of the traders returned to the market following the directive which the Governor announced on the radio.
A buyer at Federal Line, Mrs. Oluchukwu Maduemena, however doubted the existence of coronavirus in the state and maintained that there was no way Eke Awka traders and buyers could observe social distancing in the market with its limited space. She noted that the operations of wheelbarrow pushers in the market worsened the adherence of WHO’s guidelines, as, according to him, individuals mostly pressed themselves together to allow wheelbarrow pushers to pass through.