Ever since recording the first Coronavirus (COVID-19) case on February 27, Nigeria has gone to record 1,337 cases as at April 27, including 40 death and 255 discharged patients. The government locked with two options of locking down the economy or opening the economy cautiously, went for the first option on 30th March when the country had 131 cases. The press conference of the President Buhari was majorly about locking down Lagos, Abuja and Ogun state in order to reduce the spread of the virus.
Fast forward to April 18, Nigeria recorded its first 500 cases when it registered 541 total cases including 166 deaths. This shows that it took 52 days for Nigeria to record its first 500 cases. By April 24, Nigeria had registered 1,095 cases. This shows that while it took 52 days to register the first 500 cases, it only took six days to register the next 500 cases.
On Monday 27 April, the President in his address to the nation, announced that starting from May 4, the country will ease the lockdown and normal activities will be from 6:00am to 8:00pm with ban on social, school and religious activities still in place till further notice. Furthermore, interstate lockdown shall exist, with Kano state in a total lockdown.
This has generated reactions from the citizens of the country, particularly those in Lagos state who are concerned about how social distancing can be enforced in public transports particularly the Danfo as well as the traffic situation in the state. Hence, the people feel curfew between the period of 8:00pm and 6:00am will be impossible to achieve and that the state will likely experience more cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) due to how it is almost impossible to enforce social distancing in public transportation in the state.
How Lagos State Citizens will Likely React Once the Restriction is Gradually Lifted
- For the first week, a lot of people (especially those in the formal sector) are likely to still stay at home, with the intent of watching how events will unfold. In fact, there is the tendency that those in the formal sector in the state will likely remain in voluntary lockdown till the end of the month. Those that have been working from home and are achieving more, will also likely remain at home till the end of the month.
- Lots of people are also likely to drive in their own cars. Prior to the ban of okada and keke napep in the state, workers prefer going to work in public transport, as well as through the use of Okada because they tend to reach their places of work and home, faster than when they go in their own cars. With coronavirus (COVID-19), the people will see the need to make use of their private cars so as to reduce the likelihood of contacting the virus from another person.
- Majority of those in the informal sector will start going out once the lockdown is eased and this is because they depend on daily cashflows to survive. Hence, it is expected that those that will likely start going on as from May 4 will be the ones in the informal sector. They have been anxiously waiting for this time.
- Private cars will not engage in hire services (Cabu-Cabu). Prior to now, it is common for private car owners to engage in using their cars for commercial purposes when they are going to work, or going back home from work. They tend to carry those who pass through their routes, and make money with such activities. However, with the current situation, they will likely not do such again.
- The above will lead to more people going for the limited public transportation in the state. Hence, public transportation will be overwhelmed (coupled with the fact that BRTs will likely have less space) once the ease of the lockdown starts on May 4th, 2020.
A Lift on the Ban of Okada and Keke Napep is therefore Needed
With the fear of the people in using public transport, coupled with the fact that the likely consequences above point to the fact that public transport will be overwhelmed and will aid rapid spread of the virus, it is therefore expedient of the Lagos State government to consider the temporary lifting of ban on Okada and Keke Napep at this time in order to slow down and reduce the likely spread of the virus.
First, with Okada, the number of passengers is reduced to one and there is always minimum contact between the driver and the passenger. With OPAY, MAXNG and the likes, they tend to engage more on personal hygiene as well as safety of their passengers. Hence, the Okada riders through the use of sanitizers, helmets and facemasks, tend to help reduce the spread of the virus than when the citizens make use of the public transport.
Second, the use of Okada at this time will appeal more to the people who by nature are fearful and will want to try as much as possible to do things that will protect them from having the virus while they go about their daily economic activities. Thus, the use of Okada minimizes the contact impact of having the virus.
Third, the use of Keke Napep also favours minimum contact because they can be convinced to limit their space to permit three passengers of which there will still be little spaces when compared to the public transport where contact is very possible through limited spaces.
Fourth, it will be very hard to convince drivers to limit their spaces of 4 in a row to 2 in a row, unless there is an avenue for drivers to cover the revenue to be associated with the remaining 2 seats. Hence, the use of Okada becomes a viable option to reduce the spread of the virus once the Lagos state economy begins the ease of lockdown starting from Monday May 4th, 2020.
With Inputs (Things that will likely happen once the restriction is gradually lifted) from Adesina Abdulkareem (@adesinaabolaji via Twitter)
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