By Taiwo Okanlawon
Imo State Governor, Senator Hope Uzodimma has authorized the relaxation of total lockdown on markets in the state as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
According to the Governor, markets in Imo State can now open for full operations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
Uzodimma gave this direction while addressing leaders of Imo State Amalgamated Traders Association (ISAMATA) led by their Chairman, Chief Don-Chris Okere at the Exco Chambers, Government House, Owerri.
He said that the measure is taken to ensure that the economy of the state is not completely crippled and to make Imo people survive alongside their businesses as source of livelihood.
The Governor challenged the Market Leaders on their pledge to comply with all the Covid-19 protocols which he enumerated to include: provision of temperature check, hand washing buckets, wearing of face mask by both the traders and buyers, observing of social distancing but most importantly, ensuring clean environments and high level of hygiene.
He emphasized: “The issue of hygiene is what we cannot toil with and Covid-19 and other diseases are mostly hinged on dirty environment.”
The Governor who observed that the former governments did not carry the traders along in their policies and programmes pointed out that the success of the government is equally measured by successes recorded in the economy.
He regretted that, in the long period of past administrations, Imo traders never benefitted from external loans, empowerments, and other palliatives that were distributed by the Federal Government and promised that, under his watch, the narrative must change for better.
He enjoined the leadership of ISAMATA to add value to their existence as a group by compiling their membership names and forwarding same to government for such benefits that are meant for traders nationwide.
Governor Uzodimma, however, requested them to always pay their taxes and rates without being pushed around as gentlemen and women who know the right thing to do at any point in time.
He said the era when Tax Forces are unleashed on traders to compel them to pay what is due to government will not apply in his administration if there is proper arrangement between government and the traders.
To achieve a harmonious working relationship with the traders, Governor Uzodimma constituted a three-man Committee made up of the Commissioner for Special Projects, Chairman of Board of Internal Revenue (BIR), and Special Adviser on IGR to monitor compliance of getting markets reopened and arrange the traders towards getting post Covid-19 palliatives/assistance from government to assist them beef-up their businesses.
He thanked them for their compliance to the Covid-19 directives that made them close their businesses for three months which helped the State to record less victims and very few deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic.
Earlier, the Chairman of ISAMATA, Chief Okere had thanked the Governor for inviting them to the meeting and appealed to him to relax the total lock down on markets.
He expressed gratitude to the Governor for giving Imo traders a sense of belonging through the appointment of some of them into political positions and sensitive committees such as the Covid-19 Task Force Committee in the State. He assured the Governor of total compliance to all directives regarding the ease on lock down of markets.
Present at the meeting were the Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku, members of the State Executive Council and other government appointees.