Okafor Ofiebor/ Port Harcourt
Traders and businessmen with shops and warehouses around Okoro-nu-Odu Flyover and Rumuokoro in Obio-Akpor local government area of Rivers State have appealed to Governor Nyesom Wike not to extend the 24 hours curfew imposed on the area beyond the initial 14 days period.
Governor Wike had on November 22 announced a 14-day curfew on Rumuodomaya and Rumuokoro parts of Rivers State following upsurge in criminal activities of cult gangs and related violence in the area.
The Governor had noted that activities of the gangs are inhibiting the construction of the Okoro-nu-Odu flyover.
He warned that government will deal appropriately with anyone who decided to disturb peace and security in the state through cult activities, violence and killings.
“As part of measures to tackle this menace therefore, Government has imposed a 24-hour total curfew for two weeks on the entire area along and around the Okoro-nodu flyover up to one-kilometer radius from Saint Emmanuel Anglican Church, Rumuokoro, extending to the Rumuodomaya Slaughter and Local Government daily market with effect from Monday 23rd November 2020 for 14 days.
“Consequently, no form of trading, human or vehicular movement is allowed within the afore-mentioned restricted areas until further notice,” the Governor said.
“Only staff and vehicles belonging to Julius Berger Nigeria Limited are exempted from the curfew and associated restrictions on movement so that construction work on the Okoro-Nu-Odu flyover is not stalled,” he added while directing agencies are to strictly enforce the curfew, arrest and summarily prosecute any person, trader or vehicle that may attempt to violate it.
However, during visit to the areas on Monday, some of the traders were seen anxiously hanging around their shops awaiting announcement from Governor Wike that the curfew had been suspended to enable them reopen their shops for Christmas and New Year sales.
The traders noted that the 14 days announced period for the curfew elapsed on Sunday.
One of the traders, Madam Abigail Okoro a trader said: “I had gone to market the previous Saturday two weeks ago to stock my shop for Christmas sales only for the Governor to announce the 24 hours curfew. Most of the goods are perishable. I am doomed. He should have mercy and lift Curfew. We have suffered Covid-19 Pandemic lockdown and now this”.
Anthony Uboh, an owner of cold room said he pays N600,000 as shop rent annually and the rent for the shop will expire at the end of December 2020.
“Besides the scare for my rent, the goods in the cold room are perishable with the epileptic Public power supply, and the cost of burning generator to preserve the frozen foods is enormous without sales.”
Madam Betty, a dealer of fresh tomatoes and pepper lamented that the traders like her have recorded huge loses as the curfew was announced without prior notice.
She appealed to Wike have mercy on the traders by suspending the curfew so that they can partake in the sales for the yuletide.
Meanwhile, the Okoro-nu-Odu Flyover is over 95 percent completed by Julius Berger Engineers at time of the visit.
It was observed that three Police trooper vehicles were strategically stationed under the bridge.