It is sad that, in spite of all the strategic efforts being made by the Lagos State Government and its Ministry of Health in the fight against Coronavirus, many residents of the state seem not to be in tune with the rules and regulations guiding the new order. Some have continued to wallow in their incurable ignorance insisting that COVID-19 does not exist.
Governor Babajide Sanwo-olu and the Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Professor Akin Abayomi, have been having sleepless nights in their efforts to ensure that the state, being the epicentre of the disease in Nigeria, is not overwhelmed by the number of cases being reported daily. And being the commercial nerve centre of the country, Lagos State, with its population, is automatically more likely to record more cases.
Unfortunately, all the social and physical distancing rules that the state is preaching seem to fall on deaf ears as many residents have continued to go about with a nonchalant attitude. It sickening to know that, even some security agents, who are supposed to enforce these rules, are the ones in the forefront of their violation.
For instance, the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC in conjunction with the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 as well as the Federal Ministry of Health had reeled out a list of dos and don’ts concerning the pandemic. Alas, these rules have been thrown to the dogs. Transporters have refused to adhere to the rules of the game in the new normal. Commercial transport operators are more interested in making more profit at the expense of the health and safety of commuters. In the Alimosho axis of the state, most transporters are having their vehicles filled to the brim with no regards to the physical distancing rule.
When this writer approached a commercial bus driver in Ikotun to find out the reason behind his refusal to abide by the rules, his complaints were as disturbing as the reality on ground. “My brother, we are paying through our noses every day to these union people. They do not consider the fact that there is a health emergency. All they know is to collect heavy tolls from us. Anyone who is not willing to cooperate will have his vehicle seized or beaten blue-black. They work hand in hand with the Nigeria Police and LASTMA. So, the only way we can cope is to carry passengers at our full capacity. We can only abide strictly by the rules, if government can call these union and council people to order”, he said.
This writer boarded a coaster bus from Ikotun to Oshodi and was amazed at the level of carelessness exhibited by most of the passengers.
In a bus that had well over forty passengers, only seven had their face masks on them. There was no spacing between passengers as the conductor kept shouting, “Oshodi four-four”. As the journey to Oshodi began, a man whose coughs were sounding like a grinding machine was there without a face mask. You can imagine the number of people he would have infected, if he had the virus. The truth is that Lagosians are a special breed; most of us trivialize serious issues and tend to carve out humour from them.
If the Lagos State Government does not go hard on the National Union of Road Transport Workers as well as the Road Transport Employees Association of Nigeria, the leadership of these two bodies would continue to be lackadaisical about the enforcement of the COVID-19 safety guidelines.
The Lagos State Police Commissioner should call his men to order. They should rise up to the occasion and desist from every act that would jeopardize the fight against COVID-19.