Onitsha Traders React over Extension of Business Hours

By Nkechi Amunike

Traders at the Onitsha Main Market have reacted to the extension of business hours at the market by the Anambra State Government.

The traders who have been at home since the lockdown, were excited to be released from what they viewed as house arrest following the lockdown which was eased few months ago, leading to the re-opening of markets. However it was directed that markets would be closing by 4pm.

The market body on Friday, July 10, however made an announcement that normal business hours had been restored with effect from Saturday, July 11, meaning that the market closure had reverted to 6pm.

In his reaction, Mr. Cosmas Ezeonyeasi, a trader who deals in printing papers at the New Market Road at Onitsha, said that the coronavirus already affected his business negatively.

‘The printing paper business has to do with writing materials and school books, most of which are printed with the papers we sell. Without schools reopening, we will continue to be affected.

‘So, extending the time is not the issue. The important thing is for schools to resume,’ he said.

In another interview, a trader who deals with phone accessories, Mrs Ogochukwu, reiterated that the only positive thing in the time extension was that there would be extra time for customers to make purchases because most of her customers came in the late evening to make their purchases.

For his part, Mr. Maduka Onwuka said, ‘I am a businessman who sells exercise books and as you can see, schools haven’t re-opened and it feels like the weight of the lockdown fell on us.

‘But if schools are open, my business will be moving well and I can get money to feed my kids.

‘The major problem is the schools that haven’t been asked to re-open, whether they extend time or not, all we need is for schools to re-open,’ she said, complaining that their children were their investment.

Chief Patrick Eze from Bridgehead Market explained that kids fed the nation indirectly.

‘If schools are open, many businesses will be profitable. Look at the uniform traders, tailors, school bag and flask traders, textbooks, even paying of school fees, so, shutting down schools is the major lockdown, the nation no matter how busy it may seem, is still on a lockdown until schools re-open,’ he added.

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