Picture above credit: A makeshift mini market on 24 Road Festac Town, Lagos. PHOTO: TONYE BAKARE
The Amuwo Odofin Local Government (AOLG) of Lagos State has shut down four markets in the area for non-compliance with guidelines to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the four markets which were shut on Monday are Oyinlola and 23 Road markets in Festac Town, OpeOluwa market at Agboju and Arozo Market at Mile 2.
When NAN correspondent visited OpeOluwa market at Agboju in Festac Town, there were no business activities going on following the closure.
NAN reports that tapes were used to cordon off the stalls at the shut markets while a team from the Lagos Neighbourhood Safety Corps (LNSC) was also on ground to enforce compliance.
The Vice Chairman of the Council, Mr Olusegun Idris, said the action became necessary because of rising cases of COVID-19 in the area in spite of all efforts at curtailing it.
Idris, who is also the Chairman of the council’s Committee on COVID-19, said there had been a lot of advocacy and sensitisation programmes about the virus but the community refused to adhere to the guidelines.
“AOLG is one of those with the highest cases of COVID-19 and despite all we’re putting in place, we’re still experiencing these high numbers.
“They think they can continue their normal activities as usual but we cannot condone that because number of those affected is increasing day by day.
“When you see pictures of how people patronise the traders, there’s no social distancing, the provision of soap and water is porous, they’re not using face masks,” he said.
Idris added that the Council had held several meetings with the market leaders to address the issue but there had been no change.
“We cannot continue to condone their reckless way of attending to issues. We must find a way to stop it and locking the markets is one.
“Even when we tell them to open the market at nine o’clock in the morning and close by three, they will still come very early and close late at night.
“We cannot allow people to contract the virus from the markets and take it home, and continue spreading it,” he said.
The vice chairman noted that other markets and businesses who didn’t comply with guidelines given by the council would also be shut down.
Idris said that motor parks within AOLG would also be shut down if the transporters and commuters continued to violate the rules.
He said the markets which had been closed indefinitely would only be reopened if they met the requirements.
Also, the Chairman of AOLG Task Force on COVID-19, Mr Akindare Adetifa, said all efforts put in place to ensure that the guidelines are adhered to had been flouted.
According to him, many people in the community are still in denial about the pandemic and have been frustrating the efforts being made.
“They will be asking us if we’ve seen people that died of it or their relatives.
“Now, we want to do it in a way that people are forced to comply because they are not ready to do it,” he said.
A trader, Mrs Mabel Ewilem, said the closure of the market came as a shock to her because they had been following the guidelines.
According to her, the market police team enforces the use of face masks and threatens to close stalls of those who default.
Another trader, Mrs Lucy Osigwe, said they looked forward to having a meeting with the market leaders so that they could find out the next step to take.
The market leader, Mrs Osinatu Adebayo, said they would engage the council on required steps for the reopening of the markets.
“We were there last Thursday for a meeting, I told them of our efforts so far.
“I even told them that the state government gave us face masks that we’ve shared with the traders and they’ve been using it, those who don’t, we fine them.
“We got containers with taps, soap and water for washing hands. We already do one day on, one day off,” she said. (NAN)