Both traders and visitors in the popular Eke Awka market in Awka South local government area of Anambra state without facemasks on Friday, received strokes of cane from the enforcement officials of market.
The development might not be unconnected with the order from the state government to close the market on Monday.
In a statement issued by the Secretary to the State Government, Professor Solo Chukwulobelu, the government had cited non-compliance by the market traders and customers with Covid-19 protocols as reason for the closure.
The statement partly read, “This is to inform the public that effective Monday, 15th June, 2020, Eke Awka Market, in Awka South Local Government will be shut down.
“This is as a result of non-compliance by the market traders and customers with Covid-19 protocols including wearing of protective face masks, provision of running water and soap for washing of hands, keeping of physical distancing etc.
“Also, effective Monday, 15th June, 2020, curfew in Awka South local government will be from 8pm to 6am daily, until further notice.
“These actions by the government is as a result of increased cases of Covid-19 in Awka South Local Government.
“The government is also putting other market leaders and local government councils in the state on notice that a similar curfew action will be taken, and markets in the local government closed down if it is observed that such markets do not observe Covid-19 protocols.
“All should please be guided and take the issue of observing Covid-19 protocols seriously.”
The enforcement officers were seen at the entrances to the market with canes as they ensured that no individual entered the market without wearing facemasks.
Speaking with the DAILY VENDOR, one of market leaders, Chibuzor Ibezim, said they decided to be more serious with the facemasks enforcement so the government could rescind its decision on the market closure.
He said, “It’s unfortunate they took the decision of closing the market. But you can see we are not resting on our oars in enforcing the protocols, despite the resistance from the defaulters. More than 90 percent of people in the market are wearing the mask.
“We plead with the government not to go ahead with the closure because it will affect us badly. We’re still suffering from the losses we incurred during the period of lockdown.”
One of the victims, a middle aged woman who pleaded anonymity, said flogging defaulters of facemasks was not the best way to enforce the order.
“Actually, I have facemask, but I forgot it at home. But is that why they should be flogging us like children? They should find a better way of making people see the need of using the masks,” she stated.