Two most popular markets in the Garden City that attracts traders from across the Niger Delta, Oil Mill at Eleme Junction and Slaughter at the zoo area where cows are sold, have been shut out of the reopening grace offered on Monday, August 17, 2020, by Gov Nyesom Wike of Rivers State.
Apparently to show government’s vehemence against the two major markets, a government special announcement was released after the governor’s broadcast to re-emphasise the ‘no-open’ order.
The special announcement signed by the Commissioner of Information and Communications, Pastor Paulinus Msirim, stated thus: “Rivers State Government hereby reiterates that Oginiba (Slaughter Market) and Rumukwurushe (Oil Mill) Market still remain closed despite the lifting of the ban on markets in the State.
Traders in the affected markets are warned not to dare government’s directive.
Anyone that violates the order will face the full wrath of the Law.
Port Harcourt residents now wonder why the two markets seem to attract the highest attrition from the seat of power from the beginning of Covid-19, and what makes the two worse than other markets.
The governor has in a broadcast earlier in the day announced the re-opening of all markets in the State with effect from Tuesday, August 18, 2020 from 7a.m and close at 6p.m daily, excepting the two.
The governor stated that as the markets resume business, they must operate in strict compliance with the established protocols on wearing of face masks, washing of hands and maintaining social distancing.
He said government lifted the ban placed on markets to increase the tempo of economic activities in the State. “Market managers must provide for hand washing and use of sanitizers for everyone at the entrance of every market, ensure wearing of face mask and maintaining social distancing.
“Any market that opens to the public and fails to comply strictly with these protocols shall be closed down. The market managers shall be prosecuted while the contravening shops shall be forfeited to the State Government without notice.
“Similarly, churches can now hold services with 50 percent of their hall capacity provided the leadership can enforce wearing of face masks and washing of hands at the entrance by worshippers.
“The ban on outdoor sports activities at the Port Harcourt Club, Golf Club and the Port Harcourt Polo Club is also lifted.
“Members of these clubs must also comply with the established COVID-19 protocols or risk another closure.
“In addition, all night clubs, cinemas, bars and in-service restaurants remain banned until further notice. The established restrictions on public burials and weddings are also still in force.
“All Local Government chairmen are hereby directed to ensure strict compliance with the protocols in their respective Local Government Areas.
“We also call on the security agencies to support the State Government to fight against the spread of this disease by enforcing the wearing of face mask in public places and maintenance of physical distancing throughout the state.
“Government has increased the State’s capacity for surveillance, contact tracing, testing and treatment of positive cases in line with the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), oil and gas companies that provided PCR laboratories.
“We are also considering the request for approval and certification by some private laboratories to provide sample collection and testing services,” he said.
Governor Wike stated that with the available data on COVID-19 cases, the measures put in place by the State Government are impacting positively on the efforts to control the spread of the virus.
He stated that even though the State presently stands as the fifth most impacted State in the country, there has been a steady drop on the number of new positive cases within the last seven weeks.
According to the Governor, the State can move to a higher level of increased spread if residents do not change their deviant behaviours.
“The deviant behaviour of residents and visitors to the State to comply with the basic COVID-19 rules inspite of repeated appeals from me, NCDC and other well-meaning persons is quite unfortunate.
“We therefore appeal to all residents to exercise due sense of responsibility by complying with the established protocols on wearing of face mask, use of hand sanitizers and maintaining social distancing,” he said.
Governor Wike commended the medical personnel and volunteers who have continued to render selfless services to check the spread of the virus.
He also thanked individual and corporate donors who have supported the state and said their names would be published soon.
On the dissolution of the Taskforce on Illegal Motor Parks and Street Trading, the Governor said the decision was taken because the members took the laws into their hands.
While urging motorists and traders not to go back to their old ways, the Governor announced that a disciplined Taskforce would soon be reconstituted.