By Ndu Chris Nwannah, ATM Guest Writer
As part of measures taken to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Anambra State government has directed that all markets in the area should be closed for business from Monday, 30th March, 2020 for a preliminary period of 14 days. This new order was disclosed by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, in a statement released in Awka, Anambra State capital, on Thursday, 26th March.
The statement stipulated that “during the 14-day period, traders should stay at home and not move about.”
Whilst the new order will be strictly enforced, the statement indicated that outlets selling food items and medicines are authorised to stay open during the closure period. According to Professor Chukwulobelu, “such businesses should however observe social distance protocols and other coronavirus health advisory already in place in Anambra state.”
Professor Chukwulobelu indicated that the “directive will be reviewed at the end of the 14-day period and further directives will be communicated.”
The Secretary to the State Government directed all market leaders across the state to ensure compliance with the order.
“The executive and members of Anambra State Market Traders Association (ASMATA), executive and members of various market associations, market men and women are hereby directed to strictly comply with this directive.”
Professor Chukwulobelu also indicated that the state’s COVID-19 task force and security agents would work toward ensuring compliance with the order.
It will be recalled that ASMATA executives had earlier pleaded with the state government not to close the markets in Anambra State. In a press briefing held just a few days before the latest government guideline, the president-general of ASMATA, Chief Ikechukwu Ekwegbalu, accompanied by the legal adviser, Mr. Humphrey Udechukwu, and other ASMATA executives, had disclosed that the government had earlier wanted to close the market but had held off based on representation from the association. The market group’s leadership had then advised all members to comply with the COVID-19 containment guidelines provided by the government, including hand washing, provision of water, soap, sanitizers, wipes and so on.
The central executive said it was working with the Anambra State Government Committee on the COVID-19 pandemic and that it had mandated all line chairmen and secretaries of various markets to enforce the regulations.
It appears however that the growing risk of coronavirus contagion had forced the government to decide on shuttering the markets completely.
The SSG, Professor Chukwulobelu, in announcing the new decision, said that “members of Anambra state Covid-19 Task Force, the police and other security agencies should strictly enforce this directive.
“This is in the best interest of all of us. Please help us to fight this pandemic,” he pleaded.