Livestock traders in Akwa Ibom State have called on the state government to reopen the livestock market in the state after a four-month ban on the movement of livestock from other states to Akwa Ibom.
The closure of the market at the peak of the COVID-19 lockdown crashed livestock business in the state.
Speaking in Uyo on Tuesday at a meeting with the Secretary to the State Government, Emmanuel Ekuwem, the leader of the livestock sellers in Akwa Ibom State, Hassan Sadauki, appealed to the government to reconsider its decision.
Governor Udom Emmanuel on May 11 placed a ban on cattle, goats and rams from being moved into the state from other states.
The ban on the movement of livestock from other states to Akwa Ibom was placed as part of the measures to curb the spread of coronavirus in the state, according to the government.
Akwa Ibom recorded its first confirmed case of the virus in April. It has so far recorded 253 confirmed cases of the virus with about eight deaths.
The state reopened other markets last week for full operations and daily activities after about three months of partial activities in the market, due to the impact of the disease.
Sadauki, who is also the leader of the Hausa community in the state, said the closure of the livestock market for the long period has brought untold hardship to the farmers as this business remains the major source of livelihood to all of them.
“The unfortunate closure of the livestock market has brought untold hardship to the dealers on livestock in the State; hence, we are appealing to the state government to give consideration to re-opening of the market,” he said.
“Most of us are solely dependent on the business for the upkeep of our families, and will do everything to protect their source of income by adhering strictly to the Government guidelines.”
Mr Sadauki said the livestock sellers are ready to abide by all the guidelines given by the government to this effect.
Responding, Mr Ekuwem, who is also the chairman of the Akwa Ibom COVID-19 Management Committee, said the reopening of the livestock market in the state will be considered.
He, however, warned against those that will violate the guidelines once the state decides to reopen the market.
“There is a notion peddled by some individuals that COVID-19 is not real. To me, such belief by people is dangerous to the society. The disease has gotten to a stage that if not properly managed, new cases can break out immediately through Community spreading,” Mr Ekuwem said.
He said the incident management team will review the decision for further action.
Mr Ekuwem said the state government may consider total closure of the market if any breach of protocols is identified by the government after the reopening of the market.