COVID-19 vs Lagosians: A Tale of Survival and Endurance
Our COVID-19 Series as a nation began the moment Lagos, Nigeria recorded her first Covid-19 case on 27th February, 2020 and as at 18th June, 2020 there have been 7,896 confirmed cases, 1,382 have been discharged and 108 deaths have been recorded for Lagos state. However there are alleged reports on social media claiming that cases are under reported and accuracy of data collection varies considerably. Conversely, the LASG has been at their best in curtailing the full scope of the pandemic by erecting proper and effective test centres across the 20 local government areas in the state and state of the art isolation centres scattered around Lagos senatorial senatorial districts.
The Hustle and bustle continues
As the Jide Sanwo-olu led government begin the third phase of the easing of the lock down, the stipulated safety measures and guidelines needed to prevent contacting the virus are gradually being flouted by many of her citizens because of illiteracy, denial of the existence of the virus, hunger, frustration and the likes. Given the rapid changing situation and high uncertainty of when the virus will be gone, many have moved on swiftly going back to the daily “hustle and bustle” because of the ripple effects of the pandemic on the economy and in turn their financial status.
The initial lock down that lasted between 30th March 2020- 3rd May 2020 understandably crippled every economy activities in the state resulting in the loss of millions of Naira to businesses, consumers and even the government. Lagosians are therefore in a race with time to recover all that was lost between that period and also try to adapt to the new way of life.
The New reality
#MaskupLagos will be one of the unforgettable COVID-19 Series, as well as washing of hands, hand sanitizers and maintaining social distancing are suggested ways of not contacting the virus according to @NCDC, has become a struggle for many Lagosian to adhere to. There were videos and pictures of customers who tried gaining forceful access to Banks, Atms from 4th May 2020 disobeying the #MaskupLagos and social distancing rules. This irresponsible act still persists and many fear that the efforts of the government are being sabotaged by impatient lagosians. The marketplace are steadily becoming overcrowded with vendors and consumers not using their face masks. The transportation system isn’t left out, despite warnings from Mr Governor to Danfos, kekes to carry just 60% of commuters instead of the usual 100%, many drivers and conductors disobey this order especially at night for greedy purposes which has raised concerns on why these new laws are not properly implemented.
Despite the number of deaths that has been recorded, words on the streets still holds that Covid-19 is a farce and another ploy to amass wealth by the political class. Its surprising that many still hold this and strongly abide by this erroneous claims. Illiteracy is believed to be the reason behind this point of view but its surprising that so called literates also support this view. Government must increase her efforts in accurately sensitizing her citizens and keep drumming the consequences of failures to abide by the stipulated rules.
In as much as this is a difficult time for everyone, we must gather courage to live by the new safety tips if we all want to survive this pandemic.
Frustration and Hunger
Lagos and Nigeria’s Gdp is dominated by the informal economy. Informal economy consist of activities which are not directly subjected to total regulations by the government. This part of economy is highly significant in Lagos and has suddenly so much money to the pandemic. Activities like photography, modeling, carpentry, painting, hairdressing, fashion designing, catering etc make up the informal economy. Millions of individuals who fall into this category are currently jobless and idle because bulk of their services are tied to the money spinning Owambe lifestyle of Lagos.
Speculative hoarding by food supply chains has triggered the prices of food supplies like rice, tomatoes, onions etc by 30-50%. These effects has compounded each other in a cycle likely to increase hunger. The drop also in imports of food and basic consumer goods has also increased inflation of these products which are in high demand.
Public transportation system also experienced its own wave of inflation as BRT, Danfo and Keke prices have been increased. BRT which is strictly run by the government brought up new prices for the different routes they ply in Lagos despite the cries and pleas from the populace.
Accordingly, due to the lack of income and productivity, many employed individuals will become unemployed sooner or later. Salaries pay cut will certainly set in, the debt profile of companies are skyrocketing and frustration is gradually creeping which in turn might affect the mental health of many.
These are honestly not the best time for Lagosians
How Should the government respond?
There is the urgent for the government to make this phase less excruciating than what it already is for Lagosians. In the short term of ending the Lagos state COVID-19 Series:
- The Iya Oloja should liaise with various food chain suppliers in order to regulate the inflation of prices
- Monetary or liquidity measures should be channelled to SMEs, informal workers especially the most vulnerable ones
- There should be a waive in personal tax for the third quarter considering that there have been non existent incomes for most individuals during the second quarter
- Efforts must be improved in dishing quality palliatives for families who are worst hit by the pandemic
- Review of inflated transportation prices
This is a wake-up call for policy makers in the state, policies and decisions have to be tailored to make life bearable for the citizens until balance is restored back to the world and our COVID-19 Series remains a history to tell.