COVID-19 Lockdown: Stranded Travellers Lament

There was substantial compliance with the Federal Government’s lockdown order in Abuja, Lagos and Ogun states, on Tuesday as travellers groaned under the weight of the initiative to curtail the spread of COVID-19 in the country.

President Muhammadu Buhari had on Sunday ordered a 14-day lockdown of Lagos, Ogun and the FCT to curtail the spread of the coronavirus ravaging the world.

Dozens of policemen, officers and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps were out on the streets as from 11pm on Monday night into the early hours of Tuesday.

Only workers on essential services were allowed to move freely within the FCT.

Our correspondents, who went around the parts of the six council areas that make up the Federal Capital Territory as well as the city centre, observed substantial compliance on the first day of the 14-day lockdown.

Our correspondents observed that despite advice by health authorities, there was little if any effort by individuals to adhere to government’s social distancing directive as even health workers were seen crammed in a bus on their way to work.

Also, there were few vehicles and commercial motorcycles, popularly called to okada, operating.

However, Automated Teller Machines were functional and few bank customers were seen at the ATM points trying to make withdrawals.

Also, blockades were mounted along some routes across Abuja Municipal Area Council. Armed policemen mounted about three checkpoints along the Lokogoma road, including one close to the Galadimawa roundabout.

Commercial areas, such as  Banex, Adetokunbo Ademola Crescent, Wuse, Julius Berger roundabout, Area one, Apo and Gudu spare parts markets, Garki and Wuse markets and other busy locations within the city centre, were devoid of the usual hustle and bustle.

The inter-state motor parks at Utako were also deserted as the operators and commuters stayed away.

Only a few filling stations and eateries were opened to the public while some private vehicles were seen on the road.

In Kubwa, policemen at a roadblock around Phase 4 had a hard time turning back several residents who insisted on driving through under various guises.

The head of the Abuja Task Force on Traffic Control, Attah Ikaharo, told reporters along the usually busy Abuja-Keffi Road that his team encountered some citizens trying to use illegal means to beat the lockdown.

He said, “We found some taxi drivers trying to beat the lockdown by carrying one journalist or policemen with identity cards along with other passengers but we found them out and turned them back. We will continue to enforce the order until we achieve total compliance.”

Similarly in Lagos, security agencies, comprising the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Police Force, the NSCDC, Federal Road Safety Corps and the Ogun State Traffic and Enforcement Agency, enforced the President’s lockdown order.

During a visit by one of our correspondents to the Berger area of Lagos, it was observed that security agents had mounted barricades on the expressway, to stop vehicles from moving into or outside Lagos.

However, petrol tankers and vehicles conveying food items were allowed passage into the city after close examination.

The Commissioner of Police in Lagos State, Hakeem Odumosu, during an inspection visit to the new garage in Berger, said there had been 60 per cent compliance with the President’s lockdown order across Lagos.

He said, “Interstate buses are not allowed to move except those exempted who must identify themselves and state their purpose. The government gave exceptions but what we are doing now is that those who are not exempted don’t flout the order and the fact that you are part of those exempted does not mean you should be on the road, you must be able to prove that you have essential services to provide.

“So far, so good, we can say that there have been about 60 per cent compliance because I have been to the borders within Lagos and Ogun states and the report that I have been getting now is that there has been compliance and by the close of the work today, many people will be aware and there will be more compliance. We have been enforcing compliance with a human face; I have been telling people that this is for their good.”

Meanwhile, scores of people were stranded on Tuesday, at the boundaries between Ogun and Oyo and Lagos and Ogun states following the closure of boundaries in Ogun State.

One of our correspondents who went round some motor parks in Abeokuta observed that commuters stayed away from the parks.

Some of the motor parks, such as Kuto, Panseke, Ita-oshin, Adatan, Obantoko, Asero and Lafenwa, were deserted by commuters.

Some of the transporters that spoke with our correspondent complained about lack of patronage by the commuters.

The Police Public Relations Officer in Ogun State, Abimbola Oyeyemi, said with the closure of boundaries into Ogun State, scores of people, especially from Oyo State were stranded at the Bakatari-Ogun-Oyo boundary.

Oyeyemi said, “The boundary remains closed.  It is only the internal lockdown that was postponed till Friday. For now, no movement from and into Ogun State.

“The boundary between Ogun and Oyo states, we have our men there; they have been sending people back, especially people from Oyo State.”

The PPRO said commuters, rather than policemen, should be blamed for bribery and extortion of money.

The Punch

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