Residents of Rivers State especially most people residing in Port Harcourt, the state capital, on Tuesday, violated all anti-Coronavirus measures when they rushed to the markets to shop for Easter.
There was a high rush in each of the markets as the residents elbowed and push one another to replenish their foodstuffs for the Easter holiday and in continuation of the ongoing lockdown being enforced by the government to contain the spread of the virus.
The development followed a directive by the state Governor, Nyesom Wike, that all major markets should operate between 7 am and 12noon from April 7 to April 8 to allow residents shop for Easter.
While issuing the order, the governor declared that Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market would remain closed till further notice.
He said: “All markets in the state except Oil Mill Market, Mbiama Market and Slaughter Market at Trans-Amadi shall be open on Tuesday, April 7 and Wednesday, April 8, 2020 from 7am to 12noon. After those two days, the markets will remain closed. This is to enable residents shop for Easter and also replenish their stock of foodstuffs”.
Investigations at the markets along the popular Ikwere Road in Port Harcourt showed that the residents threw caution to the wind while engaging in the shopping.
Most of them focused on beating the deadline without paying attention to the safety regulations against COVID-19 spread such as social distancing and avoiding large gathering.
They failed to adopt the use of hand sanitizers, regular hand washing and other required preventive measures at the markets, which witnessed upsurge of desperate buyers and sellers.
The markets were congested and the roads leading to them had stretches of traffic gridlocks at a time the state confirmed a second case of Coronavirus.
Adults, children and the elderly were seen grabbing, carrying and dragging different goods with some carrying theirs on their heads.
It was, however, observed that the congestion in the markets was caused by the decisions of all sections to open for business including non-food dealers.
A resident, who identified himself as Samson, said they were not bothered about the number of people at the market because their focus was to replenish exhausted foodstuffs.
He said: “Right now we are not talking about social distancing, sanitizers, hand gloves or face masks, we all only bothered about using this period giving by the governor to buy food. We want to buy foodstuffs because we don’t know when the market will open again”.
It was, however, observed that immediately it was 12noon, the markets and lock-up shops were closed again with the Taskforce monitoring compliance.
To reduce the congestion in the markets, others appealed to the governor to direct only persons selling food items to pen for business.