Residents of Rivers State especially persons living close to Mbiama, a border community between the state and Bayelsa, have begged Governor Nyesom Wike to review his total ban on markets across the state.
The residents said unless the governor allowed the selling of food items in the markets, they would die of ‘hunger virus’ even before the Coronavirus would get to their areas.
While they appreciated the efforts of the governor to protect Rivers citizens from the virus, the residents urged Wike to either roll out relief materials or allow the selling of only food items in markets.
Mrs. Robinson, a resident of Mbiama, said the popular market had been shut down for about a week since Wike ordered the closure of all markets in the state as part of measures to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic.
She said security operatives were on rampage at Mbiama market destroying food items to prevent people from either buying or selling.
She said hunger compelled the people in the area to confront the operatives, who insisted that nobody would sell anything at the market.
She said: “It is a terrible situation. The Coronavirus is not here but hunger wants to kill us. There is no way we can buy even foodstuffs and the government has not provided any relief materials. There is nothing in place to assist us.
“The people that have managed to get to the market are stranded. Soldiers and policemen will not allow anybody to buy anything. They destroy bags of garri. They would pour water on the fire of women frying yam along the road. The security forces and the market people have been fighting.
“The people are crying that they are hungry. What I am telling you has continued for over a week now since the governor made an announcement that markets should close down. I was thinking that the sell of other things apart from food would be affected by the order.
“I don’t know why they are not allowing foodstuffs that people depend on to live their lives. How are we going to survive. The market is closed because the security operatives will not allow people to either buy or sell.
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“We were hungry and I sent my children to the market but they returned without buying anything. We only eat from hands to mouths. We don’t have money. Even lock-up shops are not allowed to open. What are we going to do? It is the hunger that will kill us before the Coronavirus will even come. The suffering is too much”.
Though Wike earlier ordered that all markets should be closed to contain the spread of the virus, the governor in latest directive exempted people providing essential goods and services.
He said the restrictive orders would not affect medical and pharmaceutical personnel, food and beverages, essential oil and gas staff, petroleum products and media workers and newspaper distributors.