EKE-AWKA ,the major market of Awka Kingdom in Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State has reopened after a two- week shut down by the state government for poor compliance to the COVID-19 protocols by traders and customers in the market .
Our reporter who monitored activities in the market noted that traders adhered completely to the COVID -19 protocols as directed by the state government.
At the time of filing this report, the COVID -19 Task Force of the market was seen at various entrances of the market monitoring and making sure that everybody from the entrance of the market adheres to the government orders.
It was also observed that all the traders and customers were putting on their face masks as well as placing running water with soaps and sanitisers in front of their shops.
Chief of Staff of the market, Sir Charles Anielobi appreciated Governor Willie Obiano for reopening the market, noting that they have learnt from their past mistakes and have constituted COVID -19 Task Force within the market.
“You can see them working at all the entrance of the gate including inside the market. We have put in place our notice which is; before you enter the market, you must wear your facemask and failing to do so, you will pay the attracted fine of N10,000 or you face our mobile court after which you will clean gutters and sweep the market for two days. We also notified the traders to place buckets of running water with soaps and hand sanitisers in front of their shops”.
Sir Anielobi assured that the past misconduct in the market will not be repeated, adding that the COVID- 19 Task Force members have been trained during the two weeks shot down.
One of the task force members, Emeka OZ, said that they penalise those that violate the order of the government against the pandemic excluding the under aged, asthmatic patients and pregnant women due to their health conditions.
Mrs Ann Okeehionam, who sells face masks in front of the market with her son, said that she made quick turnover in her business as a result of the serious enforcement of the order on both the traders and their customers towards wearing protective face masks.
“I usually come to market with 400 pieces of face mask and people are seriously patronising me. I give some to my son to go round the market and sell them at the rate of N100 per one while I stand here to sell too. We were doing the business in Onitsha but we decided to relocate to Eke-Awka because of the increase in number of those who are doing the same business there. I can also sell it at N80 for wholesale price to the senators, ministers and town leaders who may like to use it as palliative in their communities”.
Mrs Okeehionam said that the pandemic had seriously affected the economy of the country as it continued to spread and advised the public to wear their protective face mask for the sake of the lives and avoid being chased by the task force.
Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra state had suspended the government’s earlier directive to close Eke Awka market for violating Anambra state COVID-19 law.
A statement on Friday, through the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, suspended the government’s earlier directive to close Eke Awka market for violating Anambra state Covid-19 law.
According to him, “Governor Willie Obiano has considered the various pleas by Eke Awka market traders and other stakeholders, and following assurances by the traders that going forward, they will strictly abide by, and enforce the state government’s COVID-19 law and other directives on stopping the spread of the virus in the state. Also, the traders have signed an undertaking with the state government in that regard hence His Excellency on compassionate grounds has directed that the directive to close Eke Awka Market which came into effect on Monday, 15th June, 2020 be suspended”.
Professor Chukwulobelu said that Eke-Awka Market would re-open for business on Monday, 29th June, 2020 and this includes Eke Awka Market and surrounding markets such as Oderah Market, Uwakwe Ukaegbu Market, Author Eze Avenue Market and Ziks Avenue.
He urged all market leaders in the state to enforce the terms of the undertaking signed with the state government on Friday, 26th June, 2020, concerning observing and enforcing COVID-19 safety protocols in their various markets.
“We are entering a new phase of engagement with market leaders in the state whose support is critical to stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Anambra State. The market leaders now know that sanctions more stringent than the almost two-weeks closure of Eke Awka Market will apply if they fail to enforce COVID-19 safety protocols in their various markets including wearing of protective face masks, maintaining of social distancing in the markets, provision of buckets and water for washing of hands, etc”, Professor Chukwulobelu concluded.