Kano traders have devised a way to beat the lockdown imposed by Governor Abdullahi Ganduje to check the spread of the novel coronavirus in the state.
The traders, mostly from Kantin Kwari textile market and Kofar Wambai Blouse market,have relocated to residential areas in Fagge where they are now doing businesses in disregard for physical distancing rules and causing traffic gridlock in the area.
Governor Ganduje had on May 2 announced the easing of the lockdown, allowing some markets to open on Monday and Thursday so that residents can buy Ramadan food items.
The governor said movement of persons would be limited to 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the days and only vegetables markets and abattoir are allowed to open.
Wearing of face mask in public is also mandatory, the governor said, as he advised the people to continue to observe personal hygiene and social distancing.
However, on Thursday, traders from Kantin Kwari and Kofar Wambai markets trooped to Fagge, a nearby residential area, to conduct their businesses in disregard of the governor’s lockdown order.
A trader, Nafiu Ubale, told PREMIUM TIMES that he needed to get money and provide for his family in preparation for the Sallah festival.
“The Kantin Kwari market has been in locked down for months, as a result of which people are living with hunger,” he said. “We have to look for an alternative, that is why we relocated here. We are hoping that we will not spread the disease, as you can see us wearing face masks,” Mr Ubale said.
Another trader who identified himself as Nura, said ” I’m aware that we’re exempted from the lockdown easing but I have no option than to come out and provide for my family. Fagge is where we can do business because of its proximity to the Kwari market,” he said.
However, a resident of the area, Abdullahi Kausi, called on the government to halt large gatherings of traders in the residential area to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Mr Kausi, a civil servant, feared that violation of the lockdown order by the traders and their patrons might lead to coronavirus infections among the residents.
“The traders are conducting businesses without wearing face masks and in violation of social distancing rules, this behavior can result in an increase in infections in the state,” Mr Kausi warned.
Fagge Local Government Area is in the Kano metropolis and is surrounded by Kano’s major markets, including Kantin Kwari, Kofar Wambai, Sabon Gari, Singer, and Bureau de change markets.
However, the police insisted that the lockdown order was being enforced across the state.
The police spokesperson in Kano, Abdullahi Haruna, said hundreds of violators have been arrested and taken to mobile courts for prosecution.
The spokesperson of the state Ministry of Justice, Baba Jibo-Ibrahim, said 874 lockdown defaulters have been arrested and prosecuted by the eleven mobile courts in the state.
Mr Jibo-Ibrahim cited the example of a supermarket, Garba Karfe Investment, which violated the lockdown order by opening and was fined N10,000 and the supermarket sealed.
He said some violators were arrested in the night at warehouses while preparing their materials for sale the following day despite the lockdown order.
The mobile court have administered punishments on violators, ranging from community services to fines, the spokesperson said.