The Bayelsa State Government yesterday began demolition of decongested illegal structures across markets in the state capital as part of determined efforts to remain free from the global pandemic of the Coronavirus.
The demolition team, who visited the biggest and most popular Swali Market in the metropolis, spared none of the illegal structures or traders who wept uncontrollably as the bulldozers descended on their makeshift structures on the road to the market interior.
Besides, Governor Douye Diri yesterday approved the imposition of a dusk-to-dawn curfew as part of measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 pandemic in the state.
The curfew, which took effect yesterday, April 19, 2020, restricts movements between 7:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
The five-day curfew in the statement signed by Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Information and Orientation and member of Bayelsa State Task Force On COVID-19, Freston Akpor, said that the measures were part of the proactive efforts to arrest the pandemic.
The governor, who further reiterated the ban on social gatherings, particularly night-clubbing, beer parlour, bar and nocturnal worship activities to enhance social distancing, said: “This is an obligation that they have to obey, most especially in this period of COVID-19. It is not only washing of hands that is needed but physical/social distancing has to be obeyed and government will not overlook these rules, they must be obeyed, especially when they have made provision for them to go inside the market.
“The demolition is for the interest of everybody and not a deliberate attempt to put them out of business. There are spaces available for them to do their business while they still maintain their social distancing.
“Bayelsans and residents should not see this action as a punishment, as government wants to save Bayelsa and keep it safe and healthy as people go about their normal businesses.”
Meanwhile, the Technical Assistant on Security Matters to the Governor, Boma Sparrow-Jack, who led the security team, said the traders had been allocated stores but instead, they refused to go there and took over the road leading to the markets as stalls.
However, one of the traders, Florence Osike, whose store was demolished, said that she had lost thousands of naira to the exercise and that she only got wind of the demolition exercise a day before.
But the Market General Chairman, Jackson Boubra, said government had sent out notice on the demolition on several occasions but that most of the traders turned deaf ear to several warnings to vacate such illegal structures.