ONITSHA, the commercial epicnter of Anambra State is yet to regain its business life, no thanks to the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic.
The once hustling and bustling commercial city is currently witnessing slow pace of commercial activities as many business concerns are still witnessing low patronages while some other shops, stores in major streets are yet to open for normal business.
One of the popular roads – the Old Market Road in Onitsha, where newspaper vendors were usually crowded by free readers are virtualy empty as not more than five to eight readers are seen at the newspaper stands.
Of note in the COVID-19 pandemic senario in the city is the observance of the state government’s directive on number of passaengers, commercial buses and okada operators should carry which is in full compliance in the city, as keke operators carry only three passengers while commercial buses operating within the city adhere to not more than five passengers.
Wearing of face masks and observing physical distancing is operative among residents of the commercial town.
Some eating houses as at the time of this report, witness low patronage of customers.
Uzoma Egbogu, popularly known as Uzoma Newspapers – a newspaper distributor in Onitsha and environs, told our reporter that the people who crowd for free reading of Newspapers no longer cluster in compliance to social distancing directive of the state government.
According to him, the lockdown and social distancing directive has taken toll on their sales, but thanked God that the pandemic has not spread to Anambra State because the people of the state are vigilant.
“We do not allow people to gather so much in our stands and we thank Anambra State Government for the border closure which restricted influx of people in the state.
On the presidential curfew directive, he said that its observance in Onitsha was very high as the streets are deserted even befor 8.00pm.
Chief Christian Ikpa, Chairman, Newspaper Vendors Association of Nigeria said the lockdown adversely affect their newspaper distribution negatively, while he bemoaned the use of internet which affected them also. He noted that the lockdown added to their plight in terms of supply of newspapers to them, urging newspaper proprietors to come to their aid with incentives to keep them going, such automobiles.
“Politicians know their agents, newspaper proprietors should also know their agents”. He lamented that newspaper publishers have not deemed it necessary to come to their aid with face masks, hand sanitisers and other forms of palliatives.
The association called on Governor Willie Obiano to remember vendors in Onitsha and Awka in terms of stimulus packages as they form part of his constituency.