The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has certainly brought about serious distortion to human lives in all ramifications. This should be expected as nothing can ever be too much to ensure that the virus does not go out of hand. The interstate lockdown is a major intervention by the Federal Government to ensure that there is a drastic reduction in the community transmission of COVID-19. The interstate restrictions had exempted essential service providers such as healthcare workers, security operatives, food processors, petroleum distributors, power generating, transmitting and distribution officials, and media, among others.
Unfortunately, since the federal and state governments are desirous of taming the virus, some people seem to be working at cross-purposes by deliberately flouting the regulations and subjecting their lives and that of others to great risks. More stringent measures are required to be taken to enforce compliance. Given the poor response, the Federal Government had decried the continued violation of guidelines and measures to check the pandemic. As of today, there is hardly any state across the country that the interstate lockdown is not violated. What is common all the cases is that trucks owed by influential Nigerians flout the restriction orders by carrying goods and persons from one state to another with.
Besides, there appears to be double-standard in the enforcement of the directives, as law-abiding citizens would prefer to stay home. Violators are hardly found staying indoors. At times, they are shielded from incurring the wrath of the government. On a construction site in Lagos State, some youths recently protested the selective provision of escort service to line managers and contractors working on the project. Truck drivers were allowed to freely travel around while individuals with genuine reasons are constantly harassed and arrested for loitering.
For instance, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) administration recently apprehended 68 persons travelling through the FCT from various parts of the country. The culprits were nabbed by the ministerial task-team on the enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions. Surprisingly, the apprehended travellers were hidden in two company trucks and another one conveying fertilizers from Edo State when the taskforce team stopped them having insisted on the physical examination of the contents on board of the trucks. 26 persons were equally concealed in two trucks that belonged to a multi-industry company that was moved into another vehicle before being sent back to where they were coming from. Drivers of trucks conveying goods from some northern states usually charged respective passengers between N1,500 to N5,000 to convey them to the southern part of the country.
Most of the drivers often asked the passengers to sit on the floor or hide in between bags so that they cannot be spotted by security personnel. Owners of the trucks should ensure that their trucks, which are meant for haulage of goods, are not converted to be illegally transporting persons from one state to another by violating the lockdown directives. 14 persons were apprehended for moving cattle from into Port Harcourt, River State in another breach. The state government said that it acted on the intelligence gathered from whistleblowers over breach of the restrictions orders. One of those arrested allegedly confessed that they were engaged from Adamawa State to transport the cattle after paying some money to security agents to beat the closed borders. The state government later auctioned the trailers and cows while the health ministry was mandated to conduct tests on the persons to ascertain their coronavirus status.
Apart from trucks, many violators were found to have trekked on bush-paths and used motorcycles alongside bicycles to move from one state to another while also smuggling goods and commodities for sale. From the narratives, it can safely be stated that truck drivers and owners, traders, law enforcement agents, and the buying members of the public are all guilty of the violations. The truth is that many Nigerians desire that the virus would be tamed such that normalcy would return to business and social life. However, it is just right that we obey, for now, the subsisting instructions, guidelines, and directives on the interstate lockdown. It keeps baffling one’s imagination why it is difficult for the people to stick to simple rules. Apart from the ignorance displayed by some people that the pandemic is not real, those that attest to its reality are not respecting the authorities on what should be done and avoided.
The attitude of some people to public response to COVID-19 has been discouraging. Unfortunately, the pandemic does not discriminate in terms of age, status religion, race, or gender. Everyone is vulnerable even though the disease can be said to be well-managed in the country. The war against coronavirus is yet to be won. The earlier we took more seriously further directives from relevant health authorities, the better it is for everyone to be safe and united to fight this strange disease with no known cure to date. The ability to manage the community spread would certainly go a long way in the interest of all. This should be our collective commitment towards the fight against COVID-19.