We’ve lost N12bn to COVID-19 lockdown, luxury bus owners claim
We’ve lost N12bn to COVID-19 lockdown, luxury bus owners claim

…Onitsha traders warn market unions over flouting of safety rules

…Non-indigenes in Anambra not considered in palliatives — lawyer, others

…FG’s rice sent to us was good, we distributed to all LGAs –Abia Govt

…Sunu donates PPE to Lagos State

By Vincent Ujumadu, Nwabueze Okonkwo & Chimaobi Nwaiwu

LUXURY bus owners under the aegis of the Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON) claimed yesterday that they have lost over N12 billion from the COVID-19 lockdown due to the closure of parks and borders in Nigeria since March 2020 this year.

At a press briefing in Onitsha, the association appealed to the federal government to come to their rescue by granting its members loans and other palliative interventions to sustain the business after coronavirus pandemic.

National taskforce chairman of ALBON, Chief Joseph Ejiofor and the Anambra State taskforce chairman, Mr. Uchenna Maduakor said during the briefing that bus owners were still counting losses as the lockdown and closure of borders continued, adding that they have been paying salaries to their workers despite the fact that they parked their buses in obedience to the Federal Government’s directive and the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC, protocols on COVID-19.

They appealed to the federal and state governments to allow their buses to be carrying essential commodities to various parts of the country so that the bus owners could sustain themselves and their families within this period.

“Since there is border closure on passenger movement, we appeal to the security men on the roads to allow the buses passage with only essential commodity loads,” they suggested, adding that their buses in Nigeria and in other Africans countries had been parked in their garages doing no business since March 20 this year.

Their statement read in part: “Most of the bus owners find it difficult to pay salary and feed their families. Our business is on the verge of collapse if government fails to support us through intervention fund to write off our loans.

“We also need funds to pay our banks, partners and bus suppliers who have been on our neck to pay up our loan facilities and supplies. We have time limit based on the agreement to complete the previous ones to get new ones.”

Non-indigenes in Anambra not considered in palliatives  — Lawyer, others

Also yesterday, Imo State-born legal practitioner based in Onitsha, Anambra State, Benedict Uchenna Igwe   described as very unfortunate, a situation where non-indigenes in Anambra State were not considered worthy to benefit from the COVID-19 palliatives being distributed by the state government in various parts of the state to cushion the effects of the lockdown.

Similarly, chairman of Shoe Manufacturers and General Dealers Association, Chief Clement Okemefuna and chairman of Ogbunike Mechanic Village, Ifedilichukwu Idoko have expressed disgust that all the palliatives and stimulus were not extended to non-indigenes in the state.

Okemefuna and Idoko therefore charged the state government to direct those in-charge of the distribution exercise to henceforth share the palliatives and stimulus to both indigenes and non-indigenes, as demanded by equity.

They also demanded that the state government should distribute palliatives to markets and other statutory bodies like mechanics and allied tradesmen who are also paying revenues to the government.

Igwe, who spoke to newsmen in his law chambers at Onitsha, said he personally monitored the distribution of all the state government palliatives, including the first batch of 200 bags of rice given to each of the 181 communities in the state for aged ones from 70 years and above and another 400 bags of rice given to the youths in all the 181 communities and he discovered to his chagrin that the interest of non-indigenes resident in the state were no protected by both the government and benefiting communities.

Procure testing machines in every state, cleric tells govt

Meantime, in what appeared to be a reaction to the relaxation of the coronavirus   lockdown in various states of the federation, an Anglican cleric, Venerable Obiora Uzochukwu has called on the authorities concerned to establish COVID-19 testing equipment-cum centre in all the 36 states of the federation.

He said by so doing, the equipment would facilitate the speedy testing and treatment of those infected with coronavirus.

Speaking to newsmen at the All Saints Cathedral, Onitsha, Anambra State, Venerable Uzochukwu, an Archdeacon and Sub-Dean of Anglican Diocese on the Niger noted that the only way to ascertain the actual number of persons infected with COVID-19 in every state was when the masses undergo Covid-19 test.

He said if individuals and governments could purchase brand new vehicles at  exorbitant costs, nothing stops the Federal Government from establishing COVID-19 testing equipments and kits for each state.

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“Covid-19 has exposed our inefficient health care delivery system in Nigeria. This should make us see the need to embark on massive refurbishment and upgrading of our medical facilities, equipping them with ventilators and testing kits.”

Onitsha  traders warn market unions over flouting of safety rules

In a related development, over 45 market unions, under the Onitsha South Shop Owners Traders Association of Nigeria, OSSOTAN, have been told to reciprocate the Anambra State g overnor, Chief Willie Obiano’s, magnanimity of  reopening the markets in the state, by observing the rules put in place to protect the state from coronavirus infection.

President General of OSSOTAN, Chief Eric Uwaoma, made the call while speaking with newsmen in his office in Onitsha over his association’s commitment and efforts in ensuring that the conditions given by the state government before reopening the markets and shops for business, are kept.

According to Chief Uwaoma, “traders in Anambra State may not know what the government of Anambra State has done for them by allowing the markets in the state to operate for business, until they go to neghbouring states where the markets and shops are under locks and key.

“The conditions given by the Anambra State Governor, Chief Willie Obiano, for markets to reopen and for traders to resume trading activities are very simple and easy to observe.

“Governor Obiano directed that traders and their customers must always wear  face masks, constantly wash their hands and maintain physical and social distancing. As traders, we must reciprocate the gesture by obeying the governments directive to stay safe and keep the state safe.

“I must warn all the leaders in the  unions under OSSOTAN, that the ability of the traders in their various markets to obey the government’s directive to stay safe and keep the state safe, by observing Governor Obiano, Nigerian Center for Disease Control, NCDC and the World Health Organization, WHO, directives, for people to stay safe, depends on their commitment to compel the traders and their customers to comply.

“OSSOTAN is therefore, directing all the chairmen of the various unions in our association to ensure that the traders and their customers obey the governor’s directives which were the conditions to re-open the markets and shops for trading activities.”

Sunu donates PPE to Lagos State

In a similar vein, Sunu Assurance Plc and its sister company, Sunu Health Nigeria Limited, has donated N15 million worth of Personal Protective Equipment, PPE to Lagos State government to help protect frontline health workers against coronavirus.

With the latest donation, Sunu Group, a leading pan-African insurance group, has donated a total of N300 million worth of PPE across Africa as part of its support to governments.

The chairman, Sunu Assurance Plc, while donating the equipments to the Lagos State Government at its medical warehouse in Lekki, said they decided to provide them to protect the front line workers who are the ones taking care of the people that  test positive to the virus.

He stated that coronavirus is a novel virus that has no cure and the only way to cure it is through prevention.

He said: “All over the world, we hear doctors and health care workers being infected by the virus. We need our doctors to be hale and hearty in order to deliver care to the people.

“We have personal protective equipment’s worth about N15 million that we are giving out to protect our front line workers.”

The Managing Director, Sunu Assurance, Mr. Samuel Ogbodu said the Sunu Group took the decision to donate the PPE across Africa.

FG’s rice sent to us was good –Abia Govt

Abia State government has said it distributed the 1,800 bags of rice donated to it by the federal government to cushion the effects of covid-19 lockdown to the 17 council areas of the state.

Controversy has trailed the donation of the rice as some states alleged that the rice had expired and unfit for consumption.

But while announcing the donation, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu had  stated that the state would examine the donation to ascertain its quality.

Commissioner for Information and member of the state inter ministerial committee on covid-19, Chief John Okiyi Kalu, explained that the state examined the rice donated to it and found it suitable for consumption.

He disclosed that the rice was distributed among the 17 council areas as soon as it was confirmed to be in good condition and fit for human consumption.

In his words; “The federal government donated 1,800 bags of rice to the state. The donation was meant to complement the efforts of the state in easing the suffering of our people. Before the donation, Abia had distributed over 10,000 bags of rice through religious groups, state geriatric services agency, town unions and LGAs. We examined the consignment from the federal government and confirmed it fit for human consumption. It wasn’t expired and was in good state. We have since distributed the bags of rice to vulnerable persons in our state through the 17 local government areas. The Transition Committee chairmen, in turn, distributed it to their respective communities.   There was no complaint about the rice.”

The Commissioner urged residents of the state to obey the regulations on covid-19 in order to contain the spread of the virus in the state and urged the security agencies to assist the state to ensure restriction of interstate movements.

Vanguard

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