Things have not been going on fine for business outfits like hotels and eateries in Imo state, numbering over 200, since the sit-at-home order was declared by the Senator Hope Uzodinma-led government last week.
The week long sit-at-home order took many by surprise because this was the first time it was being observed in the state and normal vehicular and human movements were halted. As a result, people who were used to gracing hotels and other eating and drinking joints scattered all over Owerri, the state capital and its environs were no longer seen.
Our correspondent, who visited some of those places, discovered that they were either under lock and key or open without the usual patronage because of government’s restriction order.
Mostly hit are big and small hotels in town, which have sent half of their staff on compulsory leave and nobody is sure that those staff will receive their salaries for the month since they did not work for it.
Some hotels went further to stop putting on their generating sets because of the same lack of patronage while others closed down their bars, restaurants and other important departments in order to meet up with the Covid-19 challenges.
The same problems affected eateries, fast food centres and some super markets in the state which were being threatened by security agents.
When contacted, a manager in one of the hotels who pleaded anonymity, lamented that the lockdown “has taken a toll on us. We no longer see lodgers. All these rooms you are seeing here, about 30 of them are empty. Before this time it was not so. We charge between N10 and N20, 000 for each room, depending on the nature of the room and at the weekends all of them are occupied. But today, what do we see? Empty rooms. You can see what we mean.”
Another manager said “As a five- star hotel we charge between N25,000 and N30,000 per room and still you hardly get a free room because of the kind of services we offer. Now nobody comes for the rooms, nobody books our hall for events and nobody makes use of our bush bar and swimming pool. The government has made it appear like a war situation and this is bad for the state’s economy.”