By Kenneth Jukpor
Amid the lockdown of business activities in the country following the coronavirus pandemic, Nigeria’s President, Mohammadu Buhari has stated that all seaports in Lagos will remain operational, while all passenger movement via commercial or private aircrafts are banned.
Buhari revealed this while addressing the nation on the pandemic this evening, noting that vehicles and drivers conveying essential cargoes from the Lagos ports to other parts of the country will be screened thoroughly before departure by the Ports Health Authority.
On the air travel ban, he stressed that special permits will be issued on a needs basis.
The President, however, stated that all vehicles conveying food and other essential humanitarian items to other parts of the country will also be screened thoroughly before they are allowed to enter restricted areas.
Accordingly, he directed the Minister of Health to redeploy all Port Health Authority employees previously stationed in the Lagos and Abuja Airports to key roads that serve as entry and exit points to restricted zones.
“We are fully aware that such measures will cause much hardship and inconvenience to many citizens. But this is a matter of life and death, if we look at the dreadful daily toll of deaths in Italy, France and Spain.”
Noting that other countries have taken stricter measures, Buhari said, “We must all see this as our national and patriotic duty to control and contain the spread of this virus. I will therefore ask all of us affected by this order to put aside our personal comfort to safeguard ourselves and fellow human beings. This common enemy can only be controlled if we all come together and obey scientific and medical advice”
“For residents of satellite and commuter towns and communities around Lagos and Abuja whose livelihoods will surely be affected by some of these restrictive measures, we shall deploy relief materials to ease their pains in the coming weeks.”
“Furthermore, although schools are closed, I have instructed the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development to work with State Governments in developing a strategy on how to sustain the school feeding program during this period without compromising our social distancing policies. The Minister will be contacting the affected States and agree on detailed next steps.”
Based on the advice of the Federal Ministry of Health and the NCDC, Buhari directed the cessation of all movements in Lagos and the FCT for an initial period of 14 days with effect from 11pm on Monday, 30th March 2020. This restriction will also apply to Ogun State due to its close proximity to Lagos and the high traffic between the two States.
“All citizens in these areas are to stay in their homes. Travel to or from other states should be postponed. All businesses and offices within these locations should be fully closed during this period.”
“The Governors of Lagos and Ogun States as well as the Minister of the FCT have been notified. Furthermore, heads of security and intelligence agencies have also been briefed.
“We will use this containment period to identify, trace and isolate all individuals that have come into contact with confirmed cases. We will ensure the treatment of confirmed cases while restricting further spread to other States,” the President said.
However, this order does not apply to hospitals and all related medical establishments as well as organizations in health care related manufacturing and distribution.
Food processing, distribution and retail companies; petroleum distribution and retail entities, power generation, transmission and distribution companies; and private security companies are also exempted.
“Although these establishments are exempted, access will be restricted and monitored. Workers in telecommunication companies, broadcasters, print and electronic media staff who can prove they are unable to work from home are also exempted,” he stated.