Confusion trails new food markets in Anambra

Posted by News Express | 17 April 2020 | 832 times

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Traders in Anambra State have continued to express their frustration over the new directive by the state government to open up new markets in designated location following record case of coronavirus in the state.

The police, in a statement issued by the Police Public Relations Officer, Haruna Mohammed, ordered the temporary but complete closure of food markets in the state till further notice.

The police directed the traders to move their commodities to the freshly designated locations established in all communities of the state according to respective Local Government Areas.

The statement reads: “In order to enhance social distance and hygiene during the lockdown period, the Anambra State Government has designated ‘new’ markets for food items established in all communities of the State according to respective Local Government Areas.

“In view of the above, the Command wishes to notify the public that effective from 8am on Tuesday 14/4/2020, all existing food markets are to be shut down completely till further notice. Sellers of Food items and other essential consumables are required to move their commodities to the freshly designated locations.

“The essence of the new locations is to restrict commercial activities to food items and other approved essentials and to ensure that buying and selling hold within a well-spaced environment that permits observance of the social distancing protocol.

“The markets in every community will operate between 8am and 3pm daily.  Market leaders and affected vendors have been fully notified while Transition Committee Chairmen, President Generals of Communities will be on ground to manage the new facilities.

“Attached here under is the comprehensive list of the designated “new” markets for dissemination to members of the public through your medium.”

As laudable as this initiative might be, the proponents appeared not to have factored in the implications on both the sellers and buyers especially as regards the locations of the markets to them vis-a-vis the movement restrictions.

The questions concerned stakeholders have continued to ask is: how will the traders convey the foodstuffs to the various designated markets? How will the buyers access the commodities? What magic will they perform to get to the centres, especially, those without Cars? How will many of them even know about the new directive since they don’t have access to the media?

Some of the traders who spoke with The Nation said they were confused and incapacitated as it was practically impossible for them to move their wares to the designated area on foot which was far away from their present location.

A trader at the Obi Nsoedo foodstuffs market, Okpunegbu, Nnewi, lamented the suffering she underwent to get to the market.

“I had to trek from my house to the market carrying my goods on my head. I kept on praying to God that I won’t meet any of the police on the way.

Another resident, who identified herself as Faith Omego, said she would have loved to go to the market as she had ran out of foodstuffs but said she was scared of arrest.

“Even if I have a car, how will I access the market with the numerous road blocks all over the place? This government does not take care of the poor masses,” she said.

Obed Meniru, a civil servant, said: “This is a very good initiative from the State government, but I’m concerned about how some of these women selling foodstuffs will know about the new market locations since some of them have no access to the radio or television.

“Is it possible to engage the services of the local towncriers be used in remote villages?”

A media consultant, simply identified as Tempest, said the whole arrangement was confusing.

“Will they build abattoir in the new the new locations. What of the people running repair services like generator mechanics, electricity. Let the government rethink fast and address this confusion before is too late,” he decried.

Another resident, Atupulazi, narrated how a vulcaniser was nearly beaten to death yesterday in his village by vigilante members for being in front of his shop. They forgot that he is one of essential service providers too.

For another resident who preferred anonymity, the blame should go to the state government who decided to relinquish its responsibility to the police.

“It’s unfortunate that the present government in the state seems to be unaware or naive of their functions. How can the police announce an executive order in a democratic setting?

“Moreover, the locations for the food markets have compounded the suffering of the poor masses. How can a village poor people that normally a distance of about 300metres will now travel a distance of one mile to get what to eat in situations of no means of transportation.

“The government should borrow leave from other states and be on ground to understand the situation before handing over their functions to the police.

A religious leader, Pastor Ufoma Edet, regretted that the scourge had succeeded in exposing the urban and regional planners in the state.

“They designate these markets as if everyone leaves within the axis. The inevitability of having transportation to run on the road is 100 per cent. The model of taking these food items to streets and households would have been perfect.”

Meanwhile, the state has continued to record near total compliance to the locked down order following the two weeks extension of the stay-at-home order by Governor Willie Obiano to checkmate the spread of the Coronavirus in the state.

Police patrol teams and community vigilante members were seen mounted at strategic junctions across the state, blocking the roads with used tyres and other objects to prevent commercial vehicles, tricycles and motorcycles from plying the roads.

Though some commercial motorcyclists otherwise called okada riders were on skeletal business, they were doing that in fear ready to escape at any hush.

Pedestrians were also moving in fear but were not harassed by the security operatives. Police teams were seen patrolling with their vehicles to cover the state.

All the streets shops were totally closed down except the designated areas where buyers and sellers find it difficult to patronise. (The Nation)





Source: News Express

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