Enugu State Government has shut down the biggest Market in Enugu, Ogbete Main Market.
This followed disobedience by some traders, who deal in commodities other than food stuff and essential goods to stay at home as ordered by the State Government.
As part of efforts to contain the spread of Coronavirus otherwise known as COVID-19, the State Government ordered churches, markets and businesses not dealing in essential commodities and services to shutdown before April 1, 2020.
However, traders and businesses that deal in food stuff and pharmaceutical products as well as people on essential service were exempted from the stay-at-home order.
Already, government offices and all schools in the state had closed.
When Radio Nigeria went round some parts of Enugu metropolis to monitor the level of compliance, it was observed that traders at Kenyatta Market obeyed the order as only traders in food stuff opened for business.
However, the story was different at the Old Artisan Market and Ogbete Main Market as the markets were in full swing, with traders of non essential commodities seen making brisk sales with many people in the market.
Initially, when Radio Nigeria visited Ogbete Market in the morning hours, local security men prevented traders from entering the market only for the security men to throw a blind eye to traders later in the day.
The situation angered the State Governor, Chief Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who came in company of the Chief Fire Officer of the State Fire Service, Mr. Okwudili Ohaa, to fumigate Ogbete Main Market.
But seeing the level of non compliance, the Governor ordered total closure of the market.
The Chief Fire Officer, Mr Ohaa told journalists “look at the market, we are supposed to fumigate it fully now but people are there and you can’t pour water and chemicals on people; this is the major problem we are having. People do not want to obey government’s directive and that is what happened to people in Italy and other countries where this virus is ravaging.”
To forestall further breach of the market shutdown, policemen were deployed at the entry points of the market.
In a swift reaction, some residents and traders, who spoke with Radio Nigeria, including Mr. Michael Ocho and Mr. Chiagozie Okereke, said the situation would bite hard if the government failed to provide palliatives to cushion the effects of staying at home.
“I am a labourer and I survive by what I earn on a daily basis, so what I am asking is let Government share somethings to the poor masses as we hear in other countries that have same lockdown because hunger is more painful than the Coronavirus they are talking about,” Mr. Ocho argued.
“Like in Ogbete they tell us not to come to the market, that the shut down is indefinite but we have children and if we all stay idle like this do government want them to die in hunger?,” Mr. Okereke queried.
Meanwhile, a few vehicles and pedestrians were seen at the ever busy Holy Ghost-Chris Chemist-Old Park-Okpara Avenue roads.
Observation showed there was significant decrease in human and vehicular movements in the metropolis.
Mass Transit loading bays in the area were virtually empty and none of them was clearly seen welcoming passengers.
Radio Nigeria also observed that not all bank branches opened for business.
But some of those that opened started operations later than the normal time and their ATM points could not dispense cash.
Some of the bank customers decried the development as they spoke with Radio Nigeria.
“This is almost the tenth place I’m going and there is no money in all their ATM and it is frustrating, and the banks are not operating fully, look at the crowd here at their gate,” one of the bank customers cried out.
Another customer who pleaded anonymity also complained that “I have been here since eight o’clock in the morning but they refused to start telling us they will need to get approval from their headquarters and it was around eleven o’clock they started and my number is fifty-four and it’s now almost half past twelve and it hasn’t got to my turn because they call in only a group of five customers at a go and I have observed that each of the groups stay up to one hour before they come out,” the lady lamented.
In the meantime, some respondents appeal to the Enugu State Government to ensure that all business outfits operating this period, including food vendors and food stuff traders, buses, tricycles and filling stations provided hand sanitizers or soap and water for their own hygiene and those of their customers.