Coronavirus: Panic Buying, Traffic Snarl Worsen Lagos Residents’ Woes

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Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Lagos State Governor

as Government Orders Closure of Markets

It was a gruesome experience for most Lagos residents Wednesday, as they trooped out for last minute buying before the closure of non-food markets takes effect Thursday, March 26.

The Lagos State governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu had announced that all markets in the state, except those engaged in the sale of food, medicine and other medicals, would be shut down for four weeks, in the first instance, to save residents from the ravaging Coronavirus endemic plaguing the entire globe.

All the markets visited by NEXTMONEYcorrespondents within Lagos metropolis were thronged by people rushing to buy food stuff and a other items to stock their homes while the stay-home directive of the state governments lasts.

At the popular Ile-Epo market on the Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway popular for sale of yams, tomatoes, onions, fruits and other food items, people were seen squeezing through the mammoth crowd in the market haggling over various items that had increased in their prices.

Yam sellers had a field day as buyers struggled over displayed heaps of the commodity which was quickly exhausted by midday.  Unlike in usual days, the few trucks in the market were all empty as the items they brought had been offloaded and sold off.

“We have not seen it like this before; no yams, no potatoes, no tomatoes. I came all the way from Sango (in Ogun State), but see the money in my hand; there is nothing to buy”, a middle-aged woman who identified herself as Eucharia told NEXTMONEY.

Adamu Yola, a yam seller said they brought five trucks of yams and potatoes to Ile-Epo on Monday and that everything had been sold off.

“Haba!  The rush is too much; even when I increased the prices, the people still buy and happily too”, Adamu said on Wednesday.

The case was same at the popular Mile-12 market along Lagos-Ikorodu Road, major destination for food items from the North. 

The crowd was so huge that some elderly women had to take rest under the stalls and begged for young persons to hold their hands as they gather strength to trudge through the busy market.

Traffic snarl was extremely chocking Wednesday on major streets in the metropolis, as residents trooped out to buy one item or the other to stock at home. Without “okada” or “keke” operators, movement was made more stressful for commuters.

Major supermarkets, departmental stores and shops were filled with customers. At the Ikeja Mall housing Shoprite, long queues were seen at the gates as shoppers were subjected to hand wash or application of sanitizers at the entrance points. Those without face masks were not allowed in.

Similar scene was observed at the banks where customers had to stand in the queues for a long time before gaining access into the banking hall after applying the sanitizer.

Many ATM terminals were not dispensing cash; the functioning ones were heavily crowded.

The Lagos State Task Force contributed to the woes of the residents as those that parked their vehicles in the “wrong places” had their plate numbers removed and taken away by the officials.

NEXTMONEY could not determine where the plate numbers were taken to or how they could be retrieved.

An eye-witness however said the officials will take the confiscated plate numbers to the LCDA and LGA offices where the owners would pay between N5,000 and N10,000 to retrieve them, “that is if they are lucky not to be asked to bring evidence of their tax payment.”

Governor Sanwo-Olu had  in a televised speech said the decision to close the markets was aimed at protecting the residents from the ravaging Coronavirus endemic plaguing the entire globe. As at Thursday morning, Nigeria had recorded 51 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 disease with two discharged and one dead.

Movement into and out of Lagos is also banned.

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