Business owners in Rivers cry out


By Sam Esogwa

The closedown of markets in Rivers State by Governor Nyesom Wike as part of measures to check the spread of corona virus may be a step in the direction for some residents, but for business owners, it is a bad omen or what is generally referred to in local parlance as “bad market”.

This is because they are finding it difficult to make sales now unlike in the past, coupled with the high cost of food stuff and its scarcity.

On Saturday, when the markets in Port Harcourt officially closed down, in line with the Rivers State governor’s directive, the few business owners who opened, such as canteen operators, shop owners, filling stations and fruit sellers in Diobu, usually a busy area, complained of poor sales and patronage as majority of the residents stayed back in their homes due to the covid-19 scare and shutting down of markets.

Charles Onyenyirionwu, a shop owner in Mile 3 who sells household items, said the situation did not only affect him but also affected all the sectors, adding that the people are suffering for a strange disease they did not know anything about.

“It is not affecting me alone but everybody. You can see the road, everywhere is dry. As you can see, some even still travelled today. And they’re complaining that they don’t know when they (government) will open the market. This issue of corona virus, I don’t know what is corona virus. It’s only God that knows what is corona virus and what is the sickness,” he said.

Charles said although he is not angry over the situation, the government should have tried to help the poor masses with relief materials or money to cushion the effect of the market shutdown.

He said: “I will not be annoyed about the government shutting down the market and whatever. It’s for our own good and benefit. Some people are not happy as government shut down their business and the market because they did not even bring anything to help the poor masses. The big men, it doesn’t concern them, even if you shut down everything. The government should find a way to help the people.”

A canteen operator, Madam Rose, also lamented over the effect of the market shutdown, adding that she did not make any meaningful sale on Saturday due to absence of people. She said the high cost of food stuff on Friday made things more difficult for them.

Another canteen owner in Diobu, Caroline Okike, confirmed the adverse impact of the lockdown of Mile 3 market, which she said made many of her customers not to come out. She said prices have gone through the roof.