COVID-19: continuous closure of Rivers markets ineffective, says centre

The Youths and Environmental Advocacy Centre (YEA) has decried the continuous closure of markets in Rivers State, as a strategy to prevent the coronavirus pandemic, describing it as counterproductive and ineffective.

The Executive Director of the Centre, Fyneface Dumnamene, appealed to the government to re-open markets across the state with emphasis on strict observance of COVID-19 protocols.

Fyneface, who spoke at the weekend after leading a sensitisation campaign to Bori, Khana Local Government Area, in partnership with Land Is Life (LIL), said the existsing makeshift markets with uncontrolled crowd had defeated the aim of the government.

He said: “The campaign followed observations through baseline studies that the closure of some markets in parts of Rivers State by the government as part of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) preventive measures is making matter worse.

“The indigenous people that were dislodged from the main markets relocated to makeshift on nearby road and streets where they operate without observing social distancing and other COVID-19 protocols as recommended by the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) and World Health Organization (W.H.O.) as well as the Rivers State Government through the State COVID-19 Task Force.

” The Advocacy Centre therefore calls on the Rivers State Government to re-open the markets and work with market leaderships to ensuring that each shop in the markets maintains handwashing buckets, apply sanitizers and ensure social distancing and other COVID-19 preventive measures among customers.

“To Advocacy Centre, the continuous closure of markets which gives ways for people not to observe COVID-19 preventive measures is counterproductive. Thus, Advocacy Centre cannot categorically endorse the decision of government for the closure of markets as a positive COVID-19 preventive strategy.”

He said the people of Khana, which is part of Ogoniland, were more vulnerable to the pandemic because of the pollution in their area and asked them to observe all the preventive protocols.

Fyneface said: The people of Khana should note that COVID-19 is real and in this era of pollution in Ogoniland which Khana is part of, they have underlining sicknesses and if they do not take COVID-19 campaigns seriously, there is the tendency that they could contract the disease and it would be more disastrous because it is more effective and powerful on people that already have underlining sicknesses.

“They should try as much as possible to observe social distancing in all that they do and all other COVID-19 Protocols. This is our message our message for the people of Khana Local Government Area and we asked the people of Etche, Ahoada as well as other parts if the State to wait for us. We are coming to carry out this same campaign in these areas,” Fyneface said.