Lagos Creates 50 Neighbourhood Markets for Cheap Food Items
By Dipo Olowookere
Fifty neighbourhood food markets aimed to enable residents of Lagos State have access to affordable eatable items during this period of restriction of movement have been established by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu.
The markets were launched on Friday at large public-school premises across the state and will serve as makeshift groceries for residents to buy food items, as confirmed cases of Coronavirus (COVID-19) increases the chance of possible stringent measures.
The establishment of the food markets followed the creation of 10 food banks strategically positioned across the city, which is targeted at feeding over 200,000 vulnerable households that earn daily wage to feed.
Since Thursday, movements in the metropolis have been restricted as part of efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the state. The disease has infected over 40 people in Lagos and 70 persons in the country.
Addressing the media on Friday, Mr Sanwo-Olu said, “These neighbourhood markets will operate every two days, and will help achieve a number of goals that are all in line with the guidelines of the health authorities.”
“The markets will reduce journey times for the residents. By extension, it reduces the time people will spend in public and will also help to maintain social distancing requirements,” he added.
He also hinted that the state government may take “tougher decisions” if the confirmed cases of coronavirus surpass the threshold set by the state.
According to him, there had been a “strange trend” recorded by the state in its response to the viral epidemic, hinting further that some of the new infections showed Lagos may be entering a phase of community transmission of the disease.
“We have started to see a trend that suggests we may be entering the phase of community transmission of the disease,” he told newsmen during his regular briefing.
The Governor also signed the Lagos State Infectious Diseases Regulation 2020 into law to give legal backing to the ongoing enforcement of restrictive measures being taken by the State Government to contain the spread of the virus.
The regulation, Mr Sanwo-Olu said, prescribes stringent penalties to defaulters of directives and guidelines issued by the government to stop community transmission of COVID-19.
As cases of COVID-19 surges, Governor Sanwo-Olu said he would not rule out possible lockdown of the state in the coming days, urging the residents to brace for tougher measures.
He, however, said the treatment and management of the confirmed cases at Infectious Disease Hospital (IDH) had not overwhelmed the State.
Going by the nature of spread of the virus in other countries, the Governor said every human was at risk of contracting the disease, stressing that the response strategy to defeat the pandemic required collective effort and cooperation of residents.
“I have said again and again that this fight is a collective one; we are all in it together,” he said.
Mr Sanwo-Olu praised President Muhammadu Buhari for his leadership and support of the effort by Lagos government to stop the epidemic. He said the release of N10 billion grant to the state was a recognition of Lagos as epicentre of COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
He also appreciated the contributions of members of the organised private sector that supported the State’s effort by donation of cash, medical equipment and building of isolation centres.
The Governor said efforts were ongoing to halt community transmission, revealing that agents of the government had already started state-wide fumigation. This, he said, would be followed up by mass sensitisation and advocacy to disseminate information to residents at the grassroots.