Our major challenge on COVID-19 is caring for daily income-earners – Okowa

Delta State Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has said that the state’s major challenge is in dealing with the informal sector in the prevailing lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. He said that all ongoing infrastructural projects that had reached advanced stages of completion and others would have to wait till 2021 fiscal year.

Okowa, who spoke at the weekend at the “The Platform”, a yearly Worker’s Day programme of the Covenant Christian Centre dedicated to Nigeria’s Battle Against COVID-19 on a Cable TV, also disclosed that it was a tough challenge making those who relied on daily income to comply with the sit-at-home order of the state government.

The governor, in the Skype programme, monvitored in Asaba, said that though the state provided palliatives to cushion the effect of the lockdown on those in the informal sector, especially the vulnerable, another challenge in the state was the issue of stigmatisation, but assured that the state was tackling it head-on.

He said: “Our challenge in managing the COVID-19 in Delta State is two-pronged; one is the problem of dealing with the issues of the economy of the people, particularly the informal sector, because in the process of trying to stop the chain of transmission, we have had to undertake a lockdown.

“And in dealing with that, it is actually very challenging for the fact that most of our people are in the informal sector and they have to live on a daily basis, which was obviously a very major challenge. But we are doing our best by way of being able to provide palliative support for the vulnerable families.

“The second challenge that we have is the issue of stigmatisation, and we have been trying to carry out an advocacy to the people to realise that this is a disease that can actually affect anybody, as there is nobody that is exempted from it. We also do know that from the advocacies we have made, our people are beginning to understand that there is need to come and be tested,” he said.

He further said that the state had started tackling the economic challenge by easing the lockdown in Delta to make it much easier to manage when they resume second tranche of palliatives distribution.

Meanwhile, the COVID-19 monitoring team in Delta State, set up by the Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria (APBN), has raised the alarm over the alleged massive violation of safety rules on COVID-19 in the state.

The body expressed fears that the increased incidents of COVID-19 in the state could worsen and become uncontrollable if government yields to the undue pressure being mounted by religious leaders to lift the lockdown on religious gatherings.

Chairman of the APBN, Delta State Chapter, Mr. Paul Akporowho, while expressing dismay on the compliance level on wearing of face-masks in markets, bus terminals and other public places, lamented the crowding in the temporary markets and the recklessness in which bus drivers and other transporters were overloading their vehicles in total disregard to the rules on restriction on numbers of passengers. He said the state government precautionary measures to safeguard public health under the easement of lockdown, which began on April 30, 2020, was being abused.

“The consequences of the inability to monitor and enforce the rules issued to safeguard public health which are critical to the partial lockdown could be very grave. The local councils, whose responsibilities are to manage markets and motor parks, are already overwhelmed and the situation could go out of hand when religious gatherings begin to hold coupled with the grossly inadequate beds and other basic materials and equipment,” Akporowho said.

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