By Chimaobi Nwaiwu, NNEWI
Vehicular and human movements, on Monday, gradually resumed in Onitsha the commercial city and Nnewi the industrial town of Anambra State weeks, uncertainty still surrounds the Independent People of Biafra, IPOB’s suspended sit-at-home order.
Some markets in Onitsha, particularly Onitsha Main Market, Ochanja Central Market and Relief Market, noted for sale of provisions, threw their doors open but there were no traders and customers to transact business with them.
However, in Nnewi none of the markets opened for business, but most industries and companies opened for business with their gates locked.
Banks in the two Anambra business towns were under lock and key just as government offices located in them.
Commercial bus and tricycle operators were sighted on the roads in Onitsha moving round the town with few passengers occupying them, while many private vehicles were equally sighted moving unhindered in Onitsha.
At Upper Iweka to Niger Bridge Head, there was skeletal movement of vehicles particularly tankers and other articulated vehicles and commercial buses and tricycles.
But all the transport companies located at Upper Iweka were not operating probably because of lack of passengers.
There was no security agents around Onitsha metropolis, the popular Upper Iweka and the Niger Bridge Head, which is the entry and exit point from Onitsha to Delta, Edo and other South-West states.
Monday is our new weekend— Traders
Investigation by Vanguard on why the traders, financial services outfits, particularly banks have been reluctant to go back to business revealed that traders and workers in the financial services are enjoying the Monday weekly sit-at-home because they feel they have nothing to lose if they did not go to work.
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Some traders, who do not want their name in print, said that they now use Saturday and Sunday to do all necessary business transactions, including way-bills to their customers in and outside the state, and now use Monday to rest.
Another trader said that some of the markets are fully opened on Sundays since the Monday weekly sit-at-home commenced, and they now do all their business transactions, association and village meetings and use Monday to rest.
One of the traders said: “If you have been going to Churches on Sundays, particularly Catholic and Anglicans whose peak of religious activities are on Sundays, you will notice that the attendants have reduced drastically.
“That is because the traders and importers do their goods offloading Way bills and retail sales on Saturday and Sundays and now rest on Mondays.”
Another trader said that before, many traders in Onitsha do all their washing, including cars on Sundays and attend some public meetings and outings.
But since the Monday weekly sit-at-home, they now also go to market on Sundays and use Monday to rest, saying that Monday has now turned to resting day in Onitsha and Nnewi for traders and other businessmen, including artisans.
When Vanguard inquired if they are comfortable with the situation, some said they are not loosing anything since some of the commercial activities they could not do on Sundays are now being done on Sundays and therefore if the sit-at-home continues from now to the end of the year, they are not bothered.
However, others said that they are loosing some customers who comes to Onitsha from outside the state to transact business to their counterparts in Lagos State, adding that the situation is not good for their business because it may be difficult to convince such customers to come back to them when the situation normalizes.
However an employer and Founder and National Coordinator of Balance and Equity Group, BEG, Mr Chris Arinze expressed shock over what he called civil servants and public servants like bank workers wish for the sit-at-home to continue endlessly.
“I was shocked when I posted on my Facebook page, the implication of continued sit-at-home by the people of South-East and what it will do to our economy.
“The reactions are shocking. Some called me names including Fulani Slave; from bankers and civil servants who wanted to stay away from work on Mondays because the want to enjoy Saturday, Sunday and Monday holidays.
“Three days because their salaries are paid whether they worked or not.
“They did not consider the families that feed only when they work on daily basis, they did not know that many some people can only feed when they go out everyday to work, they did not consider some artisans and cart and wheelbarrow pushers who feed by going out daily.
“IPOB was reasonable by considering the request by notable Igbo elders to suspend their Monday weekly sit-at-home it earlier ordered, which people ignorantly and out of fear are still observing.
“However, IPOB should do more by approaching Churches and town union leaderships in South-East states to encourage people to go back to business.
“They are the only organisations everybody listens to; government and security agents cannot do anything to make the people go back to business.”