Eke Awka Market Union, Traders, Customers, Disagree over COVID-19

…Union toll Fine Defaulters N10, 000

In Anambra, authorities are worried that coronavirus infections may spike again, as millions continue to ignore safety measures such as wearing face masks and social distancing. A jump in infections can force another lockdown, hurting the economy, Fides learnt, Mercy Hill, Alexander Johnson Adejoh, Precious Ukeje and Adejumoke Alebiosu report.

It has been months since the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, lifted the ban on the closure of markets in the state owing to the negligence of COVID-19 Protocols. However, traders and customers at some markets in the state capital were seen operating at full capacity while flouting safety protocols again.

Speaking to Fides at Eke Nibo, a motor parts trader, Mr Emeka Okafor, disclosed that the coronavirus pandemic was the least of their problems, as survival was paramount.

Traders seen at Eke Awka Market flouting COVID-19 protocols

‘Market is really bad,’ he said. ‘We don’t know what the coronavirus is; we haven’t seen it. There’s nothing that concerns Nigeria with that. God will not even allow it.’

While many traders like Emeka who is popularly known as “Supplier” continue to doubt the existence of coronavirus, and flouting safety rules, the Eke Awka Market Traders Association, (EAMTA), recently vowed to prosecute offenders of the approved World Health Organization (WHO) safety protocols.

Speaking to Fides last Tuesday, Mr Charles Obuekwe, Chairman, Eke Awka Market COVID-19 Taskforce, expressed his disappointment with those flouting the regulations, particular traders and customers of the market.

‘Look around you; you can count the number of people wearing face masks. People are touching meat, food stuff; they don’t sanitize their hands,’ he complained.

Obuekwe disclosed that the market’s taskforce team was currently enlightening the traders and others at the market on the dangers of not adhering to the outlined safety rules.

He added that disciplinary actions would commence last Monday and that defaulters would pay N10, 000 and carry out a two-week community service.

Also reacting, Mr Charles Anorubi, Chief of Staff, EAMTA, while speaking to Fides, appreciated the efforts of the Governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano, for pledging to supply all the major markets in the state with COVID-19 testing machines, a step Anorubi tagged, fight against the spread of coronavirus in the state.

He revealed that Nigeria had recorded more than 104,400 cases of the coronavirus and more than 30, 000 cases just in January.

For his part, Chinwe Ochu, a director at the NCDC, expressed worry that citizens, especially younger people, had stopped being vigilant, adding that the country had reached its peak of infections between July and August 2020, but that the coronavirus infections began rising again in December, as many countries began battling a second wave of the infection.

‘The use and sales of personal protective equipment have also dropped significantly.

‘Nigerian authorities are trying to avoid imposing strict lockdowns by urging citizens to adhere to COVID-19 guidelines.

‘Nigeria’s Bureau of Statistics announced that the country had plunged into a recession, after its economy contracted by 3.6 percent due to coronavirus disruptions and Nigerians are bargaining for another lockdown.

‘Recently, the FG warned of another lockdown if Nigerians continued to disregard non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) introduced to combat the spread of COVID-19,’ he said.