The people of the Oye-Ekiti community have lamented great suffering over the ongoing lockdown which is said to have negatively affected their daily activities.
Oye is the host community of the Federal University Oye-Ekiti. The community relies greatly on the revenue generated from catering for the student populace and the businesses that generate income here are accommodation and transportation businesses. Other businesses run by people of the community include gas refill stations, restaurants, fast foods and big grocery stores.
These means of living have however been cut because the University is on a break in compliance with the lockdown. Students have dispersed to their various states of residence.
On March 29, the Ekiti state government imposed a 14-day general curfew in the state to curb the spread of the coronavirus within the state. As a result of this, markets, shops and other trading businesses were shut down indefinitely.
School Lockdowns Bad for Oye Business Owners
Since the federal government announced a shut down of events and other social gatherings including academic activities, things have changed for the inhabitants of Oye and other neighbouring communities.
The market and transportation system are the main sources of income. The students helped patronize the market women and the bike riders greatly on a daily basis, but the reverse is the case when the school is on lockdown like this.
The market has not been fully operative since the start of the curfew and some of the shop owners in the market open their half doors while the majority did not bother coming to the market.
According to a seller who pleaded anonymity, she came to the shop just to make sales in order to feed her family.
“I cannot stay at home doing nothing while I have some few things in my shop to sell. I hope you do not expect me to stay at home while I have children to cater for.”
“Fine, the lockdown was due to the pandemic but one who does not have anything to feed with does not stay at home. My shop is the only hope I have, even though there are no sales because students are not around, but that does not say I should stay at home and expect miracles,” she added.
However, Oga Ibrahim who sells tomatoes and onions at the market has a contrary view for opening his shop during the lockdown. To him, he is only trying to protect his goods from getting rotten.
“I came to shop to sell my goods because they will spoil. You see my tomatoes and onions, if you do not spread them out to the sun they get spoiled easily. How do you expect me to cope with all of these at home by myself?”
“I am not going against the government, but I can not afford to waste my money. The goods should have been sold out days ago, but since nobody came to the market to buy stuff and no students to consume what I am selling, I need to wait till all I have is sold and then lock up.”
“Oye is just so dry, once there are no students around, no market. During school hours, I make #10,000 within two days, but now to make #700 is very difficult and it is not like this when I was at Omuo-Oke Ekiti,” he added.
While speaking to this reporter, Mr Jamiu, a motorcycle-taxi known as Okada, said the lockdown has caused him more damage than good. He said his plans for the month have already been tampered with.
“I do not like the idea of this lockdown. I am a commercial rider who relies on students to make money. Now that everywhere has been locked up and students are not on campus, where do I get passengers to carry? I have tried staying at home but it did not work. I am still paying for my bike and I need to eat too. I only came out today to see if I can see passengers to carry and make money. Maybe the government did not consider the poor before making her decision, cause this seems unfair to me.”
Social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic, individual responsibility in Oye community
Since March when COVID-19 was reported in Nigeria, the NCDC embarked on sensitisation on precautions citizens can take to protect themselves from contracting the virus. The precautions include social distancing, regular handwashing with soap and water, use of hand sanitizers, facial masks and more. Despite the government’s effort in containing the spread of the virus, some residents of Oye do not understand what the virus is all about and how it can be contracted.
Mrs Adelaja, who sells plantain and other consumables told this reporter, “I do not know how the virus spread, what I know is that I pray every day not to contact it. I make sales on a daily basis and I exchange pleasantries, so I cannot predict who has it or not. It is not in Ekiti yet, so we are safe.”
Also, Tunde Ajao who engages in the iron welding profession said he cannot escape moving with people unless he does not want to eat. “I cannot observe social distancing yet because my work requires me to move with people, especially customers. Iron welding is not what one man can do, I cannot be putting all the irons together at once, so I always need help. After work, I wash my hands and take a shower when I get home. It is only if you do not want me to eat that you will ask me not to come to work, oga. Stay at home observing anything is not for people like us,” he concluded.
Despite people’s lack of knowledge of the virus, a food canteen in Oye community proves otherwise. Lady B food canteen is located at Idofin area of Oye Ekiti. The owners despite opening placed a hand sanitizer and a bowl of water at the entrance of the canteen for customers to wash their hands with before they enter to eat.
While speaking to this reporter, one of the waiters who do not want her name mentioned said it is the business owner who instructed them to do so.
She said “It is our oga that said we should put it there so that people can wash their hands before coming in to eat. You know this is a canteen and we must be clean and produce what will not be harmful to people. Also, we are not making sales like before since students are on break, so this is the only way to also attract available customer”.
Fayemi Relaxes Lockdown, Set to Distribute Palliatives
As published by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday, the Ekiti state government has relaxed the lockdown allowing people to move between the hours of 6 am and 2 pm on Tuesday and Thursday pending the time the ban will be lifted permanently.
The government also promised to start the distribution of palliatives and relief materials to 20,000 citizens, this includes the less privileged, aged and vulnerable in the state.
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