By CHUKS EKE
The leadership of various major markets in Anambra state have appealed to various tiers of governments to procure testing kits and bring them into all the major markets in the state to enable all the traders be tested and their COVID-19 status ascertained as a better measure towards forestalling further closure of markets and borders in the in the state.
They maintained that with the testing kits all over the markets, the traders and even their customers would be compelled to go for tests and ascertain their status which is a better option than closing the markets or borders for fear of spreading the contagious disease.
The market leaders who disclosed that they have already procured infrared Thermometers and employed health workers to test customers and visitors to the markets at every entry point, noted that the the health workers or the vigilante operatives would direct the visitors to first of all wash and sanitize their hands, then stand erect for their temperature to be read before they pass through the gate and enter into the market to transact their business or visit anybody.
Some of the markets which have so far adopted the reading method included United Stockfish Dealers Association of Anambra State (USDAAS), Bridge head Market(BHM), Onitsha, Onitsha Building materials Traders Association (OBMTA), Ochanja Central market (OCM), Households Utensils Multi purpose Cooperative Soceity, Ogbaru(Ogboafere mkt), Onitsha Odekpe Plastic market, Ogbaru plastic market, Iron Dealers.
Confirming the development, the market chairmen Mr. Celestine Ezewulu of USDAAS, Chief Sunday Obinze Bridgehead market, Chief Victor Ejiofor Onitsha Building materials, Chief Nelson Ojukwu of Ochanja market, Mr Stanley Anyikwa of Ogboafere, Mr Obinna Okoli Onitsha Odekpe Plastic, Mr. Akpotuo Ikechukwu of Ogbaru plastic, Chief Nnaemeka Onwuzullke of Iron dealers Union, Hon. Ignatius Ejike of God’s Favor Building materials Association commended Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State for timely relaxing the lockdown by opening the market so that people will not die of ‘hunger virus’.
According to the market leaders who spoke to newsmen in their various markets, “one of the conditions given to us by the state government for re-opening the market was to procure the Infrared Thermometer, provide wash hand buckets in the markets, adopt use of face masks and above all, set up a task force to enforce compliance”.
“So, what we are doing is to enforce the compliance as we agreed with the state government and we thank Anambra Governor Willie Obiano’s decision to re-open the markets as a rescue mission otherwise many people would have died of hunger virus if the markets had remained closed for more days”.
“The Governor is someone who is interested in the well-being of Ndi Anambra so anybody who refuses to adopt the preventive measures wants to commit suicide and we will not allow such a person here. Even our customers from the North or West have been advised to resort to placing order for goods and to pay via bank because if we see them here our taskforce will hand them over to NCDC for quarantine”, they further stated.
Chairman of Stockfish market, Celestine Ezewulu JP disclosed that their Market was the first to build permanent hand washing facilities,employ health workers and mass produce sanitizers which was sold to members,at a subsidized rate adding that they shared palliatives whort millions of naira to both indigent traders, customers and neighbors.
He commended Obiano for the 10 million naira Choose-your-market-project-initiative and pleaded with the State Government to assist the market by providing powerful Solar Electrification machine to enable them complete the 24 hours CCTV surveillance project in the market.” We rely on technology not personnel for security”.
Sunday Obinze of Bridge head market, in his own statement lauded Obinna for being proactive in the fight against Covid 19 pandemic and for the three testing centers established in Anambra. However, he suggested house to house testing to determine number of infected persons urging Ndi Anambra to abide by the preventive measures.
“Akpokuodike rightly said that Anambra state cannot allow its economy to collapse because we have a strange visitor rather than closing the markets we advise customers to engage in network business popularly called waybill and pay via the bank”, said Obinze.
According to the Chairman OBMTA, Chief Ejiofor”We have three gates but we opened only two to enable our taskforce control and enforce the WHO/NCDC stipulated preventive measures in the market. We thank Governor for fumigating markets. Let the fumigation be done regularly”.
“We are doing our best to ensure compliance and we have not met any resistance except a Navy man. We plead with Government to provide us with Electricity Transformer to provide power to pump water borehole because we spend much in fueling our generator “, said Ejiofor.
At Ochanja market, Chief Nelson Ojukwu who also advocated for waybill network business thanked Obiano for giving traders breathing space. He pleaded with His Excellency to fulfill his promise of flooring the intra market roads saying that people find it difficult to transact business in the market during rainy season.
“I thank Governor Obiano for the testing centers.I call him Ekwueme. He advised us to know how to cohabit with the virus. We did not leave the enforcement of the preventive measures in the hands of touts”said Ojukwu.
At Onitsha Odekpe Plastic market, Mr Obinna Okoli the ASMATA Ogbaru Zonal Chairman after assuring that their taskforce has been doing their job well, disclosed the market was first to procure hand washing buckets for all market lines with borehole taps for access to water. He urged Governor Obiano to provide the market with the Transformer he promised them during his election campaigns.
“Although, Corona virus pandemic has its ugly side but I thank His Excellency for the lockdown, at least people had time to rest and avert death by road accident. The lockdown made the pandemic not to hit Anambra as other states. I advise people to always plan for tomorrow to avoid failure and be ready for unforseen circumstances”, said Okoli.
Also, Chairman Ogbaru Plastic market, Mr. Ikechukwu Akpotuo said that the the market Covid 19 taskforce has mete out sanctions and sometimes seek assistance from police for defaulters of preventive measures.He called on government to also open the state borders due high cost of haulage.
“We thank the Government opening markets but cost of doing business has increased by over 50percent. Let testing machines be shifted to the borders to test commuters. We need the water borehole promised by the Governor to ensure adequate water supply”, said Akpotuo.
According to the President of Ogboafere, Stanley Anyikwa represented by his PRO, Samuel Obiakor “Ogboafere is a peaceful market, we are complying with the preventive measures, nobody is giving us headache. We suggest that testing kits are brought to the markets or churches because may not want to go to health facilities. We also need government to complete the Street lighting project in our market”.
Moreover, Chief Onwuzullke ably represented by the PRO Jude Esedo and John Chukwudum Aniche suggested that testing samples should be collected at borders urging security agents to help in controlling the porous boarders.
They commended Governor Obiano for distributing palliatives adding that their Chairman Chief Onwuzullke also distributed food items like garri, rice and cash to the indigents traders and laborers in the market.
Similarly, Hon Ignatius Ejike who commended His Excellency for opening the markets said that their market association cum Covid 19 taskforce had stipulated sanctions for defaulters of PPE. He also suggested taking the testing machine to the markets to ascertain infected persons.
“I thank Governor Obiano for distributing palliatives but you know that there are many partisan politics in various communities. I suggest that since Anambra residents are majorly traders let distribution of palliatives be assigned to market leaders where everyone’s interest will be represented including non indigenes”.
“We plead with State government to construct a major road leading from Enugu/Onitsha express way into our permanent site at Nteje”, they said.
However, Some of the market leaders said they were still expecting the amiable Governor to extend palliative packages to the less privileged traders in the Markets.
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