That the ravaging Covid-19 pandemic has continued to take toll on virtually every sector of nations of the world, including Nigeria is no longer debatable
One sector the impact has largely been felt, particularly in Nigeria, remained the economy, with commercial activities in all the cities across the country gradually crumbling due to the scourge.
More worrisome is the restriction of movement declared by the federal government, particularly in the night. The 8pm – 6am curfew has not only affected business activities across states, but had adversely affected night life among the citizenry.
In Anambra State, for example, residents had always enjoyed staying out late at nights, particularly after the inauguration of “lightening up Anambra project” by the current administration of Governor Willie Obiano.
Most of the major cities in the state, including Awka, the capital, Onitsha, Nnewi, Ekwulobia, among others had always witnessed beehives of commercial activities with evening/night sessions being its peak period.
Before the imposition of curfew, night life and businesses blossomed as owners of night clubs, hotels, eateries and beer parlors and other entertainment centers had a field day, making brisk businesses in almost every corner of the state.
Sadly, the ever busy cities have become shadows of themselves following government directives on restriction of movement from 8pm to 6am as part of the measures towards containing the Covid -19 pandemic.
Some of the residents who spoke with the DAILY VENDOR, lamented that the ugly development had crippled their business as they were forced to close shops at a time they referred to as their peak period.
They said the situation has also led to downsizing of staff working as sales personnel in those places.
They appealed to the federal and state governments to come up with economic stimulus package to assist them cushion the effects of the continued containment measures at the same time make their contributions to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Mr Author Mbuba, whose wife operates a relaxation joint in Onitsha, appealed to government to consider special stimulus package for small scale business owners to encourage them to remain in business .
“The people in the entertainment industry is the worst hit. If you buy meat and did not finish selling it, with this epileptic power supply we have here, all the perishables will spoil the next day and you keep incurring debt.
“People are no longer coming due to the curfew. Some who would have relaxed with two, three bottles rarely come in again to take even a bottle,” he decried.
A palm wine bar operator, Mr Ndubuisi Eze said it has not been easy from sit at home to lockdown and now curfew.
He said it was rather painful contemplating laying off staff who might not have what to eat and sustain themselves.
“Nwoke Udi no longer make sells like before. 90 percent of us are highly hit by the pandemic.
“But if you think of reducing your staff strength, you also consider the impact of the workers who may not have any other means of livelihood. Honestly it has affected everybody in the world,” he decried.
A hotelier, Mr Oliver Ugwuowa recalled how he smiled to the bank before this period, while Jude Okoye, a night club operator described what he had lost to the pandemic as unquantifiable.
They prayed God to take away the pandemic so the society would bounce back to normalcy.
Two Disk Jockies, Obinna Okoko Dj Slam and Onyebuchi Ofora Dj Buchiano said the situation has crippled their business as they no longer get to play in night parties and relaxation joints.
“Covid-19 have affected us badly, no party, no club, nobody calls DJs now. We’ve not been going to events, including traditional marriage and wedding for sometime now. We pray this whole thing to pass,” they said.
A beer parlor operator, Lady Constance Ukwuoma, regretted she no longer made enough sales to pay her bills.
“This Covid-19 stuff is really affecting me. I am running a whole lot of bills, owing so many people including the woman that brings stuffs for me. I dont even have money for my children to eat.
“Once it’s 7pm, everybody will start packing as if there is going to be a war”.
A commercial sex worker, who preferred anonimity, also lamented that the curfew had closed her source of livelihood.
Food vendors, popularly called mama put, are not left out in the dilemma as they now close earlier to avoid being arrested by security personnel.
One of them, Ukamaka Nwodo, said it had become very difficult to feed her family.
She said, “This covid-19 and curfew is really affecting my business because I don’t cook anymore. I’m finding it very difficult to take care of my needs and that of my family since it’s the only business I do for now.
“We normally start from 7pm till 12midnight, but now I no longer cook because of this curfew.”
A pharmacist, Mrs. Rose Nwazota, also lamented the toll the curfew was taking on her business as the curfew time fell within their peak period.
“We usually sell much more from 7.30pm, but these days we close earlier because of the curfew. So the business is no longer lucrative as before,” she said.
A tricycle operator, Mr. Samuel Nwankwo, said they were compelled to close early due to the situation.
“The curfew is affecting we keke drivers seriously because of the closing time, we normally make more money at night,” he lamented.
Meanwhile, the Police Command said a total of 65 persons have been arrested for violation of curfew in various parts of Anambra State.
The spokesperson, Haruna Mohammed, in a statement, said 24 were arrested at Umunze, 15 in Onitsha and 20 in Nnewi Area Command.
He said all the cases were under investigation after which suspects would be charged to court for prosecution.
He said, “Between 8/5/2020 and today 13/5/2020 the Command arrested a total of 65 suspects who violated the Curfew on COVID-19 pandemic in Anambra State. Out of the suspects, 24 were arrested at UMUNZE, 15 in Onitsha and 20 in Nnewi Area Command. Fifteen vehicles were also impounded.
“In Umuchu,a TOYOTA Hummer Bus with registration number JXL 76 YF conveying 19 young men from the North and travelling to Asaba,Delta State were intercepted and turned back.
“In Awka, Six Suspects were also arrested on the 12/5/2020 at Big ballers lounge Abakaliki Street Awka.The suspects are,(1)Nwoye Loveth,’f’,(2)Anigbogu Michael ‘m'(3),Michael Ogbonna,’m'(4)Eric Nwafor,(5)Ani Blessing’f’and(6) Mirabel Ishewu’f’.
“The Command is determined to enforce the Curfew order to the letter and will therefore not hesitate to arrest and prosecute any individual or group of persons found violating this Government order.
“In view of the foregoing,the Commissioner of Police, John Abang solicits the cooporation and understanding of the public by adhering strictly to this Government directive aimed at containing the spread of Corona virus which has become a global pandemic.”