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COVID-19: PH Residents Battle For Survival

Panic was palpable as residents and those doing business in Rivers State react to the measures to prevent the spread of the corona virus in the state.

Last Friday, social distancing was re-defined as consumers flooded various markets to buy foodstuffs amid skyrocket prices in anticipation of the closure of all markets as ordered by the state government.

Investigations by The Vortex at various motor parks, hotels and markets showed apprehension among the populace for likely hunger and collapse of major and small businesses in the state.

Traders at the popular Mile III market who spoke to this reporter decried the shutdown of markets and the blockade placed on travelers in and outside the state.

The traders lamented that the lockdown will tell hard on the business community in the state who according to them depend on supplies of goods from Aba, Onitsha and Lagos, adding that more strategic measures should have been put in place to stem the scarcity of essential goods that may hit the state if the measures put in place by Governor Wike linger.

According to them, the governor should have deployed dedicated health officials along major entry points to the state, to check the health status of those coming into the state.

A taxi driver, Eneobong Nse complained that transporters no longer meet their daily target because of the restriction placed on the number of passengers that they can carry at a time.

Nse who ply the slaughter route said because of the increase in transport fare as a result of the reduction in number of passengers, people now choose to trek.

Another driver, Kenneth who said he runs his cab under a hire purchase agreement, said the new regulation may cause him to default in meeting his obligations to the owner of the vehicle.

Some passengers, who spoke on the issue, were of the opinion that the state governments actions on COVID-19 tend to be repressive to the poor.

The Vortex also visited some entertainment centers and brothels in Diobu where this reporter observed that many hotels have installed sanitizers with water buckets placed at the entrance.

Ibifete Captain, a manager at Royal Hotel, in Diobu told The Vortex that the price of sanitizers is hampering their efforts, adding that the product has become scarce in the market.

Ibifete appealed to the state government to be more considerate, as closing entertainment centers and businesses will greatly impoverish families and residents of the state.

He called for more proactive measures to contain the virus without subjecting the citizenry to hardship.

At the Mile III motor park, traders, transporters and passengers were seen going about their activities without adhering to preventive measures against the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no hand washing equipments or sanitizers at the entry and exits points of the park.

At the Waterlines area of Port Harcourt, many loading points of the park had sanitizers. Manager of Obi Park, Obi Emefor however expressed fears that transport business in the state may go bankrupt if care is not taken by the government in its lockdown actions.

He explained that the park has taken actions to prevent spread of the disease through staff and passengers using the park, adding that safety meetings and cautions have been  held to educate transport operators and passengers in compliance to government directives.

Austine Nweke of the J.C. Mass Park along Waterlines solicited for an economic plan that will not bring hunger to the people and lamented that the sudden stoppage of travels in and out of the state may pose difficulties in the state.

On his part, Augustine Ikhelao of Arug Express Park located behind the Mobil Filling Station also in the Waterlines area called for caution in the whole saga.

He however lauded some of the steps taken by the state government, and stated that whatever can be done to safeguard the health of the people would be worth the while.

Ikhelao lamented the panic among the populace, noting that passenger patronage has significantly reduced.

Stanley Ogoloma, supervisor at Rebisi Park stated that workers and visitors in the park would comply with government directives, but appealed to the authorities to assist in ensuring that the disease mitigating accessories and gadgets reach the people and motor parks in the state.

Ogoloma lamented the lull in the transport business and advised passengers and users of the park to comply with the government orders to prevent the spread of the disease.

The Vortex recalls that the Rivers State government has ordered the closure of all markets in the state. Governor Nyesome Wike who announced this in a broadcast also ordered the closure of all land and sea borders into the state till further notice to prevent the spread of the novel disease. 

The State Governor on Saturday led a team of security officials to monitor the closure of markets in the state.

He also signed an Executive Order  on the corona virus and enforced the monitoring of maximum of 50 worshippers in every church yesterday.

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