By Codratus Godson
All entry points into Rivers State now have controls and surveillance points, by land, by sea and by all ports. This is as the state government has shut down all parks and night clubs in the state.
The governor, Chief/Barr Nyesom Wike, rose from a state executive meeting Monday, March 23, 2020, to shock the state with a broadcast and announced additional measures and orders to curtail spread of the dreaded Coronavirus pandemic. The virus is yet to bring any person down in the state.
A report said many citizens and residents are beginning to believe that Port Harcourt cannot continue to be free for long, if it has not already fallen victim, based on national spread of the virus.
The governor has thus banned public weddings, burials, night clubs, public events, and urged religious leaders to stop open worship. It is not clear what open worship means, whether it means outdoor crusades of worship in the auditoriums of churches, but the governor said he had consultation with religious leaders.
The seemingly most striking action is the setting up of surveillance teams at all entry points in the state; land and sea. They include Emohua for motorists coming from Bayelsa and States; Omerelu for motorists coming from Owerri; Okehi for motorists coming from Imo State through Etche; Akwuzie in Ogba/Egbema/Ndoni Local Government Area for motorists coming from Imo State; Oyigbo Toll Gate for motorists coming from Aba; and Opoku in Khana Local Government Area for motorists coming from Akwa Ibom State.
The governor said: “Marine entry points: Port Harcourt and Onne Ports, Nembe, Bille, Bonny and NLNG Jetties are also going to be under surveillance. Each of the Surveillance Posts shall be manned by trained health and security personnel who will ensure that motorists and seafarers are tested before they are allowed to enter the State.
“All motorists and seafarers are please enjoined to cooperate with the Surveillance teams as they have been empowered to legitimately enforce this directive,” Governor Wike said.
He said: “With effect from the same date (Tuesday, March 24, 2020), all public parks, night clubs and cinemas in the State are to remain closed till further notice.
“In view of the fact that the disease spreads fast through body contact, social distance has become imperative if we are to contain the spread. May I, therefore call on all religious leaders, traditional rulers and opinion leaders in the State to assist government to implement these decisions by ensuring that persons under their care do not fall foul of this directive.”
He said: “May I emphasise that Local Government chairmen are to be held responsible if public burials and weddings take place in their Local Government Areas.
“Government will set up monitoring teams for the 23 Local Government Areas to ensure compliance. Defaulters will be seen as enemies of the State and will be made to face appropriate sanctions.
“My Dear Good People of Rivers State, the essence of governance is to protect lives and we cannot be indifferent when this COVID-19 continues to claim lives world-wide.
“We urge everyone to remain calm and maintain social distance. We shall continue to review the situation and adjust accordingly.
“Like I said in my Broadcast last Friday, these decisions may seem painful for all of us but there is no price that is too much to pay for us to stay alive”.
The Rivers State Governor stated with effect from Tuesday, March 24, 2020, surveillance posts will be set up across the state.
“The Rivers State Government having reviewed current developments across the country is desirous to further strengthen prevention measures across the State to keep our citizens safe.
“To this end, with effect from tomorrow, Tuesday, March 24, 2020 , Surveillance Posts are to be set up at the following Borders of the State”.
….. Rivers issues 7 new codes to transporters to curtail COVID-19 spread
* Overloading totally banned
On Monday, March 23, 2020, the state government issued seven guidelines to transporters in the bid to curtail likely spread of the ravaging coronavirus which has however not been officially detected in the oil-rich state.
The commissioner of transport, Sam Soni Ejekwu, who announced the new measures in Port Harcourt said the communiqué was agreed with the Ministry of Transport and officials of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) and other stakeholders in the transport sector in the state.
The measures include a requirement that all taxis shall admit or take a total of three passengers (one person in the front seat and two persons at the passenger sides); It is now an offence to condone, connive or be an overloaded passenger.
Henceforth, all buses shall admit or convey a total of five passengers for Suzuki buses and 10 passengers for 14/18 seater-buses; one passenger in the front seat and three passengers per seat row subsequently. “At all bus stops and stations, all commuters and passengers shall maintain regular queues and orderly lines to avoid needless rough contacts and struggles leading to altercations and spitting or droplets.
“All taxis and buses shall keep and restock their vehicles with wipes, tissues and other disposal items for use by passengers to wipe down the car doors and other handles. These directives shall be supervised, coordinated and enforced by the Road Marshalls of the Ministry of Transport, Rivers State and NURTW officials. Members of the public and the Transport operators are enjoined to give the State Government their fullest support at this challenging moment of our collective existence. To ensure compliance, members of the public are enjoined to call these numbers in case of noncompliance by drivers, conductors and passengers:”
Meanwhile, some schools opened their doors to pupils and students on Monday, March 23, 2020, despite government order which ought to take effect on Monday. By 1pm, some students were seen returning from school.
… As Shell asks office workers to work from home
Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC), one of the most conscious in Health, Safety and Environment (HSE), globally, has asked its office workers to work from home at the moment to reduce human contact and likely spread of the Coronavirus now ravaging the world and Nigeria.
People living around Shell industrial Area in Port Harcourt Monday morning noticed that cars were turning back from the two entry points at Rumumasi. Sources said they were asked to go home.
Confirming, a Shell spokesman said the company has considered safety of workers. A short statement from the company said; “The priority of Shell companies in Nigeria is the safety and health of our people, and the safe operations of all our facilities. We continue to monitor the situation closely, and have business continuity plans in place, while working with relevant government authorities on established health protocol.
“Our office-based staff will be working from home for an initial period of two weeks starting Monday, March 23, 2020, as part of the measures we are putting in place to keep our staff safe.”
Inquiries sent to most other oil companies in the city did not extract official positions by noon of Monday.