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Why Market Women Should Adhere To COVID-19 Safety Measures —Ajufo
Published Jul 12, 2020 IN Business, Column, FAMILY ANGLE,
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As at January, February, and early March, 2020, reports about Coronavirus pandemic were not too real to Deltans and many other parts of the country. One of the major reasons remains the fact that the rumored virus and its attendant deadly attacks were alien to us.


It was until April 7th, 2020 when the first index case was reported in the state and by then, the Governor of the state, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, using his administrative wisdom had urged Deltans to go on one month lockdown (compulsory stay at home). It will also be recalled that Governor Okowa was one of the first governors who commenced the lockdown after the federal government gesture in that direction.


The essence of the lockdown was to observe social distancing and the much avoidable overcrowding which inflames the spread of the virus. As soon as the one month lockdown elapsed, the situation became a different ball game considering the fact that with our normal lifestyle, where people irrespective of ethnic, religious and social status must mix and interact together to actualize social and economic activities.


However, with the watch full eyes of the World Health Organization (WHO), on the ailment, it came out with safety measures that would aid humans to contain the ailment. Such precautionary measures included maintaining good hygiene culture as in the washing of hands with Soap and water at any point in time; use of hand sanitizers; Face masks; and maintaining about two meters social distancing from another person.


With reports of the increasing rate of the virus despite these laid down measures, it is very glaring that individuals; groups and many families have failed to live up to expectation in keeping measures to check the spread of the virus.


Currently, our market places, where our unemployed young female graduates take refuge in engaging in petty businesses, in order to earn a living, the same market environment, where our wives; prospective house wives and mothers lean on to support the home after transacting business on daily bases has become a haven where the virus can easily be contacted and infect their various homes after business of the day. If absolute precaution is not taken.


Several visits by Family Angle to the various markets in the state capital Asaba, for example, the one and popular Ogbeogonogo market, has clearly shown the nonchalant attitude of our women traders in observing the laid down rules and regulations about the virus. In every space of the market housing no fewer than ten to twenty women, none is seen wearing face mask nor is keeping social distance. After taking such risks, these same women come home ignorantly to put the lives of other members of their family in danger.


Worried by the non-compliance attitude of these market women and their proneness to possible spread to their respective families, it became necessary to speak with a stakeholder who is an eye of the Oshimili Local Government council which handles market administration.


The Care Taker Committee Chairman of the market, Mr. Chukwuma Ajufo, made some revelations known to pointer’s Family Angle.


Not quite long after I took over as the caretaker committee chairman of the market, the issue of Coronavirus spread like a wild fire. I had a directive immediately from the Governor, through the local government council chairman Mr. Uche Osadebe that the market be shot down and setup a temporary market for the sale of perishable commodities. In compliance, we started a Makeshift market at the Oshimili South local government council Arcade. We also moved some traders to Asagba Primary School and to Uzoigwe Primary School in the West end area of Asaba.


With the taskforce on hand, we tried our best to ensure that the traders observe the laid down rules and regulations against contacting Coronavirus, by ensuring, they observed the possible social distancing of two meters apart, form the habit of wearing face mask, washing of hands with soap and water or with sanitizer.


At the beginning when we set up the task force, they were very vibrant and are still vibrant. We went to the extent of engaging the our local town criers (the Okwilagbe young age grade), and the ministry of Environment, they have been announcing to the general public about the existence of the CoviD-19 pandemic and the dire need to adhere strictly to the safety measures put in place by government to avert its attack. I also assure that by next week, I am setting up a fresh task force that is going to focus strictly on face mask and keeping social distancing by marketers. “We opened up eight strategic places with mounted tables carrying big buckets of water and soap or sanitizers to encourage washing of hands with soap and water.” Would you believe that before the end of the lockdown, the marketers have destroyed all the tables and buckets? To worsen the situation, majority of our traders including women who were supposed to be very careful as home makers doubted the existence of the ailment and in some areas, some of the market women say it is not a sickness for the poor but for the rich. I call this ignorance on their part. Despite our enforcing them to wear face masks, only a handful of the traders do. However, we are not going to relent. We are still trying our best.


According to him, who complaint that most people are not seeing the impact of the taskforce, as observed by Family Angle, Mr. Ajufo submitted that the taskforce was categorized. We have the capital territory, taskforce; the local government environmental taskforce; and DELSEPA. So, it has been all hand on deck. The only problem we are facing and which appears to make the traders be in cluster if because of the new structures government is building in order to expand the market and accommodate more traders. As a result, most people who have the squatting spaces where they are now building had to move to the front of the market and the more reason for the cluster which is not good at this trying period of COVID-19 crisis.


Another reason for the clustering of market men and women according to the Caretaker committee chairman is that since the inception of the COVID-19 pandemic, operational days of the market had been jettisoned to only three times a week. And that is on Mondays; Wednesdays and Saturdays. So, these three days of the week when the market is allowed to function are greeted with a large crowd. By the special grace of God, when the construction of the areas being built are completed, and the market beings to function on daily basis, the clustering or usual crowed would drastically reduce.


The market as the care taker committee chairman disclosed would be completed soon since the engineers doing the work are working hard and assured that tentatively, the work would be completed by the end of this July and this would give room for more traders to be accommodated in very convenient shops and squatters would have enough space at the back of the market to enable them maintain the required social distancing.


There are strong indications from my boss that as from Monday next week, the market would resume normally, operating from Mondays through Saturdays.


From my own observation, I don’t, know why Nigerians find it difficult to adhere to corrections. If you want them to do things aright, they feel you are intimidating them, because you are working for government. So, sometimes, when you see things like this, you let it be, since some of them feel you are trying to deprive them from working for where they earn their source of living.


To me, COVID- 19 is real and it has come to stay. The problem is that most people don’t listen to news especially our market women who just believe what they hear on the social media and therefore are not well enlightened. Painful enough, these market women are supposed mothers of our homes who should lead the family in the right direction. Their level of understanding is very poor. They feel government is using the pandemic to make money and is not real, let alone, killing people. I advise that all hands should be on deck. I will continue to try my best by the grace of God. But remember that you can take a horse to the stream but cannot force it to drink water.

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