C Don Adinuba :
1. On Saturday, February 6, 2021, the Anambra State Ministry of Trade and Commerce ordered the closure of the Agbedo New Spare Parts Market, Nnewi, for flagrant and constant violations of the protocols on the check of the Coronavirus and the law on the control of infectious diseases in Anambra State. Neither the traders nor customers were wearing face coverings. They did not observe social or physical distancing. They did not provide buckets of water, soaps or sanitizers in the market to enable people to wash their hands frequently for at least 20 seconds on each occasion.
2. As a result of the behaviour of the traders in this market and their customers as well as the nonchalant attitude of officials of the market union, there has been a huge spike in the number of COVID-19 infections in Nnewi since this year. Of course, the state government foresaw since late last year a considerable increase in the number of infections in the state because millions of our people were coming from different parts of the country and beyond, including places with high incidences of infections and fatalities, to celebrate the Christmas and New Year with their families and friends. Consequently, the government took several proactive measures to shield Ndi Anambra as much as possible from the ravages of the virus, especially the new variants from South Africa, Brazil and the United Kingdom which are more infectious and more deadly.
3. It was in consideration of the above that the State Ministry of Trade and Commerce shut down the Agbedo New Spare Parts Market for one week, with effect from Monday, February 7, 2021. The safety of all Ndi Anambra everywhere in the world is of paramount importance to this administration. On no account will the administration tolerate a situation which can threaten the very existence of our people.
4. Since the Ministry of Trade and Commerce closed down the Agbedo Spare Parts Market, a lot of stakeholders, including the leadership of the market unions in the state, have approached the authorities to tamper justice with mercy. They have pledged to comply religiously with the protocols to check the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. They have pledged to not only provide the facilities and materials needed in the market but also take the necessary disciplinary action against any person or group of persons that violates the rules. They have, in addition, pledged to help the State Government bring the culprits to justice by sending them for trial at the Mobile Courts.
5. Having examined the above pleas and having considered the prevailing economic climate in the country and, indeed, the whole world, Gov. Willie Obiano has directed the Anambra State Ministry of Trade and Commerce to reopen the Agbedo Spare Parts Market, Nnewi, on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.
6. It is necessary to warn stakeholders against abusing Gov. Obiano’s compassionate decision. The State Government will not hesitate to shut down this market or any other market which contravenes the protocols to check COVID-19. The health and safety of our people remain supreme. (MOI)