The movement restriction imposed by the Nigerian Government to stem the spread of COVID-19 may turn out an exercise in futility considering the non-adherence to the social distancing guideline at most markets in the Federal Capital Territory.
Residents have deliberately thrown caution to the wind by mingling freely without paying attention to the danger posed by such gatherings to their health and safety at this period.
The World Health Organisation had advised all countries to observe and “maintain social distancing” and stay at home as one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus.
In the FCT, markets are allowed to open for business two days within each week (Wednesday and Saturday) in order to allow residents stock up food items.
Many residents have now taken advantage of the two-day window to throng markets within the city even when most do not have genuine reasons to do so.
During a visit to Kubwa Modern Market on Friday, our correspondent observed how traders ignored the most basic of the safety rules by failing to wash their hands with soap and water and also apply sanitisers.
Many traders were seen relating with customers of all kinds without face masks and hand gloves as well, thereby exposing themselves and others to the risk of contracting Coronavirus.
It was the same story at Dutse, Nyaya, Mararaba, Lugbe, Mpape, Gwarinpa and Garki markets when our correspondent visited those places to see the level of compliance with the safety guidelines put in place by health officials.
Though policemen were seen around the road leading to the market, there was no form of enforcement of these guidelines in those place.
A trader named Fatima Salihu, who spoke with our correspondent, said she was aware of the social distancing guideline but stated that it was difficult to observe it because of the large crowd at the market.
She said, “It will be difficult to tell customers to line up before selling pepper to them, nobody will listen to me.
“If there are security operatives that will force people not no come too close to each other, that will be fine.”
A resident of the city, who asked not to be named, told SaharaReporters that many people were defying the rules because two days was not enough for them to buy foodstuffs and essential items to withstand the lockdown.
He called on the FCT authority to review the market days back to three days in a week to enable people have enough time to buy and sell under a relaxed atmosphere.
He said, “You cannot expect people who are trying to beat 2:00pm deadline when the market will close to observe social distancing. It is not possible.”
Chairman of Kubwa Market Traders Association could not be reached for comments when our correspondent got across to him.
Following the rise in cases of Coronavirus in the Abuja, there are now fears among residents that the disregard for social distancing guidelines in markets could further increase spread of the pandemic.