Market Closure: Amidst Congestion, Eke Awka Rates High In Compliance (Photos)

By Izunna Okafor

As the enforcement of market closure (directive) in Anambra State continues, the popular Eke Awka market in the state's capital has remained congested, even while adhering to the government's directive that only food item sellers should remain open.

This was observed when National Light visited the ever-busy Awka central market to examine the level of compliance by the traders.

Arriving there, it was observed that there was still a large crowd at the market, as throngs were seen selling and buying food stuffs in clusters, while some of the opened shops had tapped buckets with runny water and soaps at their entrances.

It was also observed that the buying and selling were exclusively done outside the main market, as some of the major routes leading into the various market lines were locked, thereby denying people access thereto. All shops where non food items are sold were also locked, in compliance to the directive.

Speaking, the Chairman of the market, Ozo Emeka Jude Agumadu said the market leadership has done well in enforcing the directive in the market and in ensuring that traders fully comply and adhere to it on daily basis.

Responding to the question of why some fish sellers whose shops are located in the fish line inside the main market were not allowed to sell in their shops, and why the line was locked; Chief Agumadu said the aim was to ensure full control and total compliance, owing to the fact that some other goods other than fish and food items are also sold in some of those lines.

This, he said, implies that opening those lines may have a chain of effects and produce a chain of actions, such as theft and pilferage, and even lead to other non food item sellers in those lines opening their shops, which would amount to noncompliance and disobedience to the government's directive on markets closure.

Reacting to the directive and how it affects them, some of the market women, including Mrs. Obiageli Eze who sells rice and beans; and Mrs. Añulika Iloegbunam who sells food condiments, said the period favoured them immensely, as they have begun to record high sales, such that had not been witnessed even in the festive periods.

On why they increased the prices of various items they sell, the women confessed that they were doing so because it would be very difficult and almost impossible for them to buy those goods again once they finish selling the ones they have, which also means that they and their families would remain indoor and hungry until everything subsides.

And when that would end, they said, still remains unknown to them, thereby compelling them to enjoy the full economic advantage of the ones they have in stock now, in order to survive the period themselves.

On her own part, one of the women who came to buy food stuffs, Mrs. Chinenye Izuka who is also a private school teacher decried the incessant increase in prices of items, especially those items that can be produced within the state, describing that as act of wickedness, man's inhumanity to man, and taking advantage of evil.

Confessing that many people are no longer working or earning money now due to the 'stay at home' directive; Mrs. Izuka who held her bottle of hand sanitizer handy called on government to wade in and stop the unnecessary increment in prices of items, so as to assuage the effects of the time on the people, as such things can increase hunger and crime in the society if not addressed.

Touring round the market, National Light sighted an opened shop where cake bakery items, zobo leaves, and other things that are apparently not food items, such as calabash, turning stick, scale, cake pots and cups are sold.

The shop owner, Sir Sunday Nwaka, who initially harassed our reporter for taking photograph shots of his shop, but later apologized remorsefully; said he opened the shop simply to make sales, arguing that, at least, some of the items in the shop are food related.

He however disclosed that he currently records low sales, compared to before, as most of his customers no longer come to market, probably due to hardship and fear of contracting Corona Virus.

It would be recalled that the Government of Anambra State, under the leadership of Chief Dr. Willie Obiano recently ordered the closure of all the markets in the state (except food related items sellers) with effect from Monday, 30th March, as part of the measures to prevent the Corona Virus pandemic in the state.

This, being the primary motive behind the temporary closure of Eke Awka Market, it is necessary therefore that more actions be taken by the government and other relevant agencies or associations, to decongest the market, as people still throng and 'romance' one another in the course of buying and selling there, hence, exposing themselves to the risk of contracting the highly dreaded COVID-19.

Effort should also be made to ensure that every seller in the market, including those who have no shops and those who have not, would have their water-filled tapped buckets, soap and hand sanitizer handy at the market, notwithstanding what the person sells.

These would go a long way in making the government's directive more efficacious and fecund, while also minimizing the chance of possible outbreak or spread the disease in the state.