Following the directive of the Lagos state government on the closure of all markets and stores selling non-essential products, business owners and traders across markets in the state have largely complied, PREMIUM TIMES can report.
Although their shops were closed, the traders loitered around the markets in apparent anticipation of customers.
Despite the closure order which affected at least 17 markets in the state in a move to reduce the movement of people and spread of Coronavirus in the state, traders fail to obey ‘stay at home’ order.
The closed markets include major clothing and electronics markets such as Katangua, Alaba International, Balogun, Computer Village, Agege-market, Oshodi-market, Arena, Ebute-Ero, Oluwole, Mandillas, among others.
PREMIUM TIMES observed the level of compliance at these various markets and saw that most of the markets are under lock and key and many shops were shut.
Located at the centre of Lagos, compliance at the Computer Village market was not without the efforts of law enforcement officers, PREMIUM TIMES gathered.
Despite the closure of the markets, many shop owners and traders loiter at the entrance trying to find their way into the market.
“I just need to pick a phone for my customer,” “I left my laptop in my shop, please, let me go in and get it,” “my customer called me this morning to get something for me,” among others were excuses that filled the air.
The officials of the market task force, stationed at different gates of the market, however, turned deaf ears to the pleas leaving the traders with no option than to turn back.
At least 20 officers and four official vehicles of the Lagos State Environmental Sanitation Corps (LAGESC) were at the market to ensure compliance.
“It is because we are here that you can still see this level of compliance, if we are not, those market task force cannot hold down the guys, do you see how many they are trying to gain access?” a LAGESC officer who declined giving his name told PREMIUM TIMES.
Amidst the lockdown of the market, traders kept whispering “buy and sell your phone,” “repair your laptop,” to passersby.
While some of the traders have their repair kits with them and few phones for sale, a very few traders who have shops along the road sneak into their shops to attend to customers.
Also, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps had a presence in the market, not to enforce the market closure order, but to help people maintain good hygiene in the midst of the pandemic.
“Wash your hands here, wash your hands with soap and water for free,” “stay clean, stay safe,” two NSCDC officers kept shouting to passersby.
Unlike most markets in Lagos that have multiple gates, these markets located on Lagos Island do not, with one market leading to the other. The streets of these markets, when PREMIUM TIMES visited, were filled with people huddled in groups and discussing the coronavirus pandemic.
Though stores were closed, the order to stay at home wasn’t obeyed as streets were filled with people hanging around and others playing soccer.
Many of them were traders and sales agent on the lookout for customers to approach and take to a corner of the market.
“I have shoes, sandals, shirts and trousers. What do you want?” a sales agent who later identified himself as Emeka approached the reporter and led the pathway to a corner of the market where he calls out his boss but couldn’t make headway as Central Business District (CBD) Taskforce were on patrol on every corner.
At another end of the market, those selling sanitisers, nose masks and gloves were seen undisturbed as they advertise their wares at the top of their voices, threatening to inflate the price every 30 minutes.
“Nose Masks! Carton! 9,500 naira in the next 30 minutes, it is 10, 000, in one hour’s time, it will be 10,500, buy it now,” one of the traders shouted.
While the stores are closed, trucks of goods are still being offloaded while some other customer vehicles are being loaded despite the patrol of the Police, Lagos Neighbourhood security and the CBD Taskforce.
One of those offloading the load, who identified himself simply as Musa, said: “I don’t know what’s in here, I just have to carry the cartons to the store described. This is how I get my daily food. If I stay at home who will feed me.”
One of the CBD Taskforce, who declined to mention his name as he is not permitted to speak to the press, said he and his team just released some traders who came to buy goods at the market.
At a nearby bus stop, a trader warned fellow passengers to be on the lookout for the CBD taskforce officials.
“I thought by today the whole enforcement would have been watered down and markets can move on,” said the trader who later identified herself as Iya Samuel.
“As usual, I don’t know it will be like this. I just escaped from the security and that’s why I can’t buy many goods.”
At Oshodi, Arena, and Ladipo markets at Oshodi, all the shops were closed.
The gate of Arena market was shut, with few people at the gate lobbying for access. All the shops at the Oshodi market were shut, with a few traders sitting in front of their shops calling out on passersby.
Alaba International Market
Famous for electronics and everything electricals, the market had all its gates locked. The banks around the market were also closed and their automated teller machines (ATMs) not functioning.
Just like in the other markets, people gathered in groups outside the gate of the market while those selling fairly-used clothing displayed a part of their wares.
The usually busy traffic on the road was missing and some commercial bus drivers and officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers were locked in a dispute over their daily dues. There was no police officer or security agent in sight.
For the night traders at the Ojota area of Ikorodu Road, it was business as usual.
According to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the closure of non-essential shops and markets in the state is to last for an initial seven days. As at midnight Friday, Nigeria’s coronavirus cases stood at 81, with 52 of them in Lagos.