LAGOS State Government is grossly upset by the non-compliance of Lagos residents with COVID -19 protocols as virtually over 75 per cent of the people living in the state go freely about without using face masks or maintaining physical distancing.
National Light gathered that although Nigerians are very difficult people to come under control, the last one month had shown that majority of commuters who wear face masks do so when they are afraid that the law enforcement agents would catch up with them.
Many are daily seen hanging their face masks on their jaws while others put theirs in their pockets, expecting to wear it only when they there is fear of being confronted by a special taskforce on COVID-19 enforcement.
Apapa, Ajegunle and Ebutte Metta residents are most COVID protocols noncompliant for what they term ‘lack of security agents to enforce the COVID -19 protocols.
National Light crew hit the streets to sample the opinions of Lagosians on the vexatious issue of non-compliance with a regulation that is meant to safeguard residents from the contagious disease.
A-30-year old Ubon Edet, a mechanic in the Apapa area of Lagos who is also a regular face at the Kirikiri area where he goes to buy vehicle parts and consumables for his customers, told National Light that the first time he went to the market to buy spare-parts after the lockdown around May, he wore a face mask but he noticed that no one else was wearing it, adding that because he appeared odd, people were mocking him for appearing like a masquerade. He said since then, he stopped using mask but sometimes he holds one because of police.
Many artisanal workers, port workers and others do mix freely without properly using face masks, thereby shunning social distancing at the Tin Can Island Port Complex, Apapa.
But for Ahmed Lawson, a shop attendant at the Boundary area of Apapa, argued: “What’s the purpose of wearing masks when you’ll appear odd among people? The people have discarded the concept of wearing masks. It is evident everywhere,” Ahmed retorted.
Indeed, with the gradual lifting of restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, people have also started lowering their guards. Face masks and social distancing appear to have been quickly dispensed. Though required to be worn in public, people have shunned it as they find it “discomforting and suffocating”.
Also, many artisanal workers like Edet believe that coronavirus infects “only office people”.
“For most of the places that I go to regularly since coronavirus started, people don’t wear masks. In the market, at the bus stop and even our workshop where many people gather, nobody wears mask and still nobody has reported any infection. So, this virus is not for poor people like us. It is for people using air conditioners in the office,” he said.
Most other people on the streets who seem unperturbed about the safety provided by face masks against the deadly virus argue that they can’t be bound by all the safety precautions forever, and “what difference does it make when infections are rising despite all the face masks wearing?”
People roam about freely in markets, and assemble in groups without any social distancing. This all stems from the notion that face masks are no use.
A truck driver at Ijora, Malam Abba, said, “People have forgotten about the existence of the virus. Our problem is hunger not coronavirus.”
Abba, 29, says he feels suffocation when wearing a face mask, so he prefers to keep it in his pocket or leave his nose uncovered when using it.
He said, “I’m not able to wear the mask constantly because it is very hot and I cannot breath well. I can’t wear it for a long time, so what is the point?”
At Ebute Metta, traders ostensibly shun face masks, believing that the disease is only prevalent and contagious in an enclosed environment and not applicable to market places.
Motorists that had hitherto been charging exorbitant fares for carrying fewer passengers per seat have now resorted to carrying four passengers per seat.
Lagos State Governor, Sanwo Olu had however appealed to the police to, as a matter of credible task, enforce the COVID -19 protocols by ensuring that passengers and market people wear face masks and maintain physical distancing regulations, adding that the disease had taken a toll on the finances of the state treasury.
He said while the government pays N50,000 for one person’s medical test at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), it costs about one N1.7 million to feed and treat each carrier.