By Mike Odiegwu and Rosemary Nwisi, Port Harcourt
Markets in Rivers State reopened on Tuesday after five months of their shutdown with strict compliance with the COVID-19 protocol as directed by Governor Nyesom Wike.
As part of measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, the governor shut down the markets in March, but took a decision to reopen them after reaching agreements with the market associations to observe protocols of handwashing and wearing of face masks.
Investigations revealed that some of the major markets witnessed low turnout of buyers and sellers, especially the New Layout Market Borokiri and the Mike 1 Market situated in Port Harcourt, the state capital.
Buckets of water and soap were mounted at the entrance of each market and at strategic positions inside the trading facilities.
Traders were seen cleaning their shops and getting rid of expired goods while wearing their face masks.
Most of them lamented their losses and invasion of rats, which destroyed most of their goods.
At Borikiri Market, a shop owner, Stanley Ufomba, said the task force came in the morning to monitor Wike’s directive on the observance of protocols.
He said: “This lockdown affected this market more because we have many pretty traders, wholesalers and retailers here. Many of our goods have expired. I have been sorting out the expired goods since morning. Rats have also ravaged my shops.
“At the end, I will throw them away. There is nothing I can do. Many people died because these markets were shut down because of this virus. I will only know how much I have lost after sorting out these goods. I know my losses will be huge. ”
Another trader, Mariam David, described the reopening of the market as good news, but lamented that rats ate up most of her goods.
“Rats ate up most of my goods. You can see them. Some of us borrowed money to stock up our goods hoping to pay later, before this lockdown affected us. So, we’re owing, but there’s nothing God cannot do. So, I thank God that this market is open.”