COVID-19: Banks, manufacturers on our necks, says Onitsha traders

• begs FG to suspend lockdown

Following the continues interstate lockdown order by the federal and states government to contain further spread of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, Onitsha Traders under the umbrella of Association of International Building Materials Ogidi, in Idemili North Local Government Area of Anambra State, has unanimously appealed to the Federal Government to help call off the COVID-19 lockdown, saying banks, Manufacturers and other business partners across borders are seriously on their necks as a result of loans and goods incurred from their them before the lockdown.

They also lamented that they have been deprived of their livelihood and burdened with lack of funds to cater for their welfare and that of their families since they couldn’t longer transact any business with their customers coming from other states including neighbouring West Africa Countries.

The President General of the market, Evangelist Jude Nwankwo, who spoke with Tribune Online on a telephone interview on his member’s welfare amidst the pandemic, yesterday, said although, it was okay for the government to enforce lockdown to curb the spread of the dreaded disease, but should as well, for the sake of hunger, call off the lockdown and engaged in full time, the services of orientation agencies and NGOs established in such preventive campaign in all the six geopolitical zone.

According to him, since the government lockdown palliatives commence, nothing has been given to some of the traders who are vulnerable among them.

“Ndi Igbo are very industrious people; we cannot wait for Government to do everything for us, that is why we are pleading with the Federal Government to help call off the lockdown so that we and other vulnerable Nigerians can fence for ourselves,’’ he stressed.

We have lost millions of Naira during this lockdown. We thank God for life and good health. We are appreciative of how Anambra State Government has handled everything so far,’’ the PG said.

He explained that their goods passed through borders and also clear at the ports in Lagos and Onne, Rivers State which is currently closed due to the pandemic.

On the precautionary measures taking so far against the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, Chief Nwankwo said, as number one man in the market, I can authoritatively tell you that under my leadership, we handover customers that we suspect to have violated COVID-19 rule in the Market premises.

“If we detain such people, we, then, invite the State COVID-19 Taskforce, to come and take them through testing.

“We have cautioned our customers from outside the state to place their orders through the wires and make electronic transfers; we then waybill their supplies.’

“We have engaged qualified nurses in each of the entry gates into the Market to help COVID-19 Taskforce to check temperatures of people coming in.

“We also insist that our members and our customers must wash their hands with soap under running water and use of sanitisers. We also enforce the compulsory wearing of face masks.’’

Nwankwo said that despite the harsh situation, we have given out money to some of our members, who had problems and also shared sanitisers. “We didn’t share food items because we are many and cannot start what we cannot finish’’.

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He praised Anambra Government for the palliatives to the elderly and youths, in communities, whom he said were their relations – parents, mothers, brothers and sisters.

” We have engaged qualified nurses in each of the entry gates into the Market to help COVID-19 Taskforce to check temperatures of people coming in.

“We also insist that our members and our customers must wash their hands with soap under running water and use of sanitisers. We also enforce the compulsory wearing of face masks.’’

A trader, who pleaded not to be mention in the print, on his part said “As I speak, I am so restless. I don’t understand the government. The lockdown was too sudden. There was no chance for some of us to organized ourselves at all.

“Some of our customers, here, mainly from Cameroon, Angola and Togo, before the border closure have been trapped since then.

He commended the leadership of the market for providing a temporary `Isolation Centre’ within the market, where he said that defaulters were temporarily restricted for two to three hours before being released.

Another trader, Mr Ike, said at least for the past three months, we have been corporating with the directives of the government in their efforts to curb the spread of the virus in the country, which I strongly believed that by now Nigerians must have learnt to fight the pandemic themselves. So, I see no reason why the government is extending the lockdown deceivefully in the weekly interval.

He urged the Federal Government to import the herbal remedy developed by Madagascar for possible treatment of the devilish disease cases in Nigeria and stop stocking helpless citizens at home.

 

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