COVID-19: Sanwo-Olu Suspends Okada Operations, Announces New Measures To Ease Lockdown
Ahead of the May 4th expiration of the lockdown imposed by the Federal Government on Lagos State, Ogun State and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), the Lagos State Government has introduced a strict framework for movement and re-opening of businesses.
The set of new guidelines, according to Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu in his ninth briefing at the State House in Marina on Wednesday, are to safeguard the gains which the State had made in the past four weeks in the fight against the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
From next Monday, Sanwo-Olu said the State Government will be implementing the dusk-to-dawn curfew announced by President Muhammadu Buhari last Monday as part of the phased measures to reduce risk of contagion of the COVID-19 disease among the residents and to consolidate on the response strategy deployed to combat the pandemic.
The Governor’s new framework made fundamental changes to public transportation system and business dealings at corporate offices, local markets and malls.
All passenger buses are not permitted to load to full capacity, Sanwo-Olu ordered in the new guidelines. All commercial vehicles, the Governor said, must carry maximum of 60 per cent of full capacity and their drivers must use face mask and observe other prescribed hygiene tips.
The Governor also suspended the operation of commercial motorcycles, popularly known as Okada, across the state, with the exception of those used for courier and logistics purposes.
Sanwo-Olu directed the drivers of tricycles (Keke NAPEP) operating in unrestricted areas not to carry more than two passengers per trip, adding that the passengers must keep appropriate distance.
Besides, food handlers at public eateries and restaurants have been mandated by the State Government to wear masks and hand gloves at all times, especially during the preparation and serving of foods.
Only take-out meals and delivery services will be permitted at eateries and restaurants, Sanwo-Olu ordered, warning that in-dining services will not be allowed at the moment.
The Governor said all businesses that will re-open next week must operate between the hours of 9:00 am to 3:00 pm. The new directive on business operating hours affects all corporate firms, banks, malls and local markets.
He said: “Following the culmination of the second phase of the lockdown on Lagos, Ogun and the FCT, and the nationwide address by President Muhammadu Buhari, it has become imperative for me to address our residents and to share a broader framework for the implementation of the President’s directives here in Lagos.
“There will be a dusk-to-dawn curfew from 8:00 pm to 6:00 am daily. This means that we expect all Lagos residents to stay in their homes in these hours, except those in essential services.
“All commuters are mandated to wear face masks at all times, sanitise with alcohol-based sanitizer or wash their hands with soap and running water before and after of every trip. All motor parks and garages must avoid overcrowding. Social distancing is required for passengers queuing up to board buses.
“All buses should be loaded to a maximum of 60 per cent of full capacity. No standing allowed in all BRT and LBSL bus operations. All air- conditioning systems in public transport systems must be switched off.
“Commercial Motorcycles, popularly known as Okadas, are to suspend their operations statewide, except for those motorcycles used for courier and logistics purposes. Tricycles (Kekes) operating in unrestricted areas, must not carry more than two passengers per trip and must ensure appropriate social distancing is maintained between passengers.”
In addition, the Governor announced the restriction of operating hours of water transportation companies to the period between 6:00 am and 6:00 pm daily.
He said under no circumstance should vehicles carrying food items have more than seven passengers.
All public and private schools from primary level to tertiary education must remain closed, Sanwo-Olu directed. He said online classes and lessons that had already been started must continue until further notice.
The Governor added that businesses will be allowed to operate within “Controlled Easing Phase” framework, clarifying that the expiration of the lockdown was not a directive for the full reopening of the economy.
“It is a gradual and controlled easing of the lockdown. We will continue to monitor the public health situation; the economic impact of the lockdown and always adjust our responses accordingly,” the Governor said.
The Governor acknowledged the role of banking sector in sustaining the economy, urging banks to open all their branches and offer full complement of their services to the public. He, however, said banking operations must fall within the stipulated hours of 9:00 am to 3:00 pm, adding that banks’ managements must ensure regular cleaning and decontamination of their ATM machines and devices regularly used by the public.
He said: “Companies that choose to operate within this Controlled Easing Phase are to operate between 9:00 am and 3:00 pm. They are also directed to operate at a maximum of 60 per cent of their staff capacity. Some non-essential workers can continue to work online and remotely from the office. Online and work-from-home arrangements are highly encouraged to continue as much as is practicable.
“All entertainment centres, such as event centres, cinemas, arcades, bars, casinos, day clubs, nightclubs and beaches shall remain closed till further notice. Swimming pools, gyms, barber-shops, Spas, beauty salons, and all public parks, including those in private and residential estates, will continue to remain closed for another two weeks in the instance, at which point we will review and advise on the permissible opening date for these establishments.”
Sanwo-Olu said the Government’s whistleblower channels would be fully opened to report companies that would flout the new directives. He said whistleblowers would be guaranteed full protection and their identities will be kept strictly confidential.
The Governor also announced that he would inaugurate a Committee on Thursday, which will comprise representatives of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), Road Transport Employers Association of Nigeria (RTEAN), Private Transport Operators, Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA), Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), and the Lagos State Ministry of Commerce and Industry, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget.
The committee, he said, will be charged with the responsibility of communicating the new State Government’s framework to their members for ease of implementation and compliance.