Hungry Lagosians Cry Out To Sanwo-Olu To Lift Ban On Market-Free Days

LAGOS AUGUST 26TH (NEWSRANGERS)-Lagosians, as residents of Lagos State, are popularly known, have expressed concerns over the subsisting regime of three weekly market-free days in the state, a development they say is worsening hunger pangs and having a detrimental effect on the fight against COVID-19.

Equally important, some of the respondents; among whom are traders, have lamented its impact on their means of livelihoods.

1st News reports that Lagosians currently observe three market-free days in a week.

Food markets are allowed to open only on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On the other hand, non-food markets are only open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; all between the hours of 9am and 3pm. Therefore, all food markets across the state are shut on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In the same vein, non-food markets are shut on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The development is part of the subsisting streamlined guidelines on gradual easing of the COVID-19 lockdown by the Lagos State Government; especially as they relate to markets in the state.

However, Lagosians have bemoaned the existing practice.

In separate chats with 1st News, many respondents who commended Lagos State Governor; Babajide Sanwo-Olu for doing an excellent job so far in governance and in the fight against COVID-19; nevertheless, expressed the sentiments that the weekly market-free days are worsening the plight of residents in the state who have to contend with the congestion witnessed on the three days on which the markets are open. Specifically, they hold that the situation is not only subjecting residents to hardship; but also tightening the financial noose around the neck of millions in the state while also contributing to a potential rise in community transmission of COVID-19 infections.

Consequently, they have called on Sanwo-Olu to consider lifting the restrictions.

Mrs. Abike Adebusuyi, a vegetables trader in the popular Mile 12 market; told 1st News she has suffered huge losses as a result of the market-free days.

‘‘I sell items such as tomatoes, pepper, leafy vegetables and other perishables in this market. I must confess that this practice of only coming to the market three days in a week is not helping our business at all. Most times, I have had to discard these items when they go bad, incurring huge losses in the process.

‘‘In fact, once it is approaching closing hours on days when the market is open; I often try to sell off the majority of my goods that may not last until the next market day at very ridiculous prices. This is in order to ensure that I do not lose all. Selling it below my cost price is also not ideal. But what can I do? I plead with Governor Sanwo-Olu to reconsider lifting the market-free days as it is gradually killing off our businesses.

‘‘I am not the only one suffering this pain. Many of us here are bearing the same huge burden. The long days of the lockdown was very tough for us. Now that markets are open, we are still going hungry along with our children due to this market-free days’ policy. Please help us beg our dear Governor to consider us,’’ she pleaded.

Another Lagosian, a trader at Computer Village, Ikeja, who chose to speak on condition of anonymity; says the current situation is making life very difficult.

‘‘It is very tough. For several months, we were on lockdown and our shops were all locked up. Some of us are looking for money to renew our rents in these shops which have expired. We are also struggling to raise money to feed the children at home and also prepare to pay their school fees when school resumes.

‘‘Yet, we still have to cope with being unable to come to the market every day. Even worse, on the days we come here; some louts come to chase us out even before the specified closing hours. They say they are acting on the instructions of the state government. We are really suffering and I only hope that the government can do something about it.’’

A banker, Nkem Agu, says she has to juggle and plan her official and family commitments; adding that the inability to access the food markets on certain days is a major hassle for her.

‘‘I must commend Governor Sanwo-Olu for the good job he has done so far in managing the COVID-19 crisis. However, I think the governor should please allow us have full access to the markets. The current three-day on, three-day off practice is a source of stress. The markets are heavily congested, traffic is terrible and the risk of getting infected with COVID-19 is even higher,’’ she stated.

On his part, Danladi Rabiu, a forex dealer; is of the view that the current regime of market-free days is no longer needed.

‘‘While I understand that the market-free days’ guidelines came into force as part of the eased lockdown regulations; personally I do not think it is still required. We are on the verge of fully reopening the economy. Local flights have resumed and international flights will soon follow suit. By now, I had expected that the government would have lifted the restrictions on the market days; by allowing us trade every day.

‘‘It (the market-free days) is seriously affecting our business and also hampering our ability to service our customers. In view of the security implications of our business and the need to be proactive in meeting customers’ needs; having to contend with not being able to come to the office three days in a week has been a huge challenge,’’ he revealed.

Meanwhile, a public health expert, Abiodun Igho, affirms that the market-free days’ restrictions hold greater risk of community transmission of COVID-19.

‘‘Going by the current guidelines, markets are only open three days in a week. It is actually worsening community transmission of COVID-19. This is because Lagosians always experience a huge crush at these markets on the day they are open. There is a constant mad rush and many people are no longer wearing face-masks; or observing social distancing.

‘‘So, I urge the Lagos State Governor to kindly reconsider and rescind the restrictions. It will go a long way in easing hardship on Lagosians and further reducing community spread of COVID-19.’’

1st News

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