A man wearing a protective face mask is seen on the first day of the easing of lockdown measures during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lagos, Nigeria May 4, 2020. REUTERS-Temilade Adelaja

The Market Traders’ Association of Nigeria (MATAN) has directed its members across the country to comply strictly with the recent presidential directive on COVID-19 guidelines to reduce the spread of the virus at markets.

The association’s National President, Jamilu Abbas, gave the directive in an interview with newsmen on the sidelineS of the inauguration of the Lagos State caretaker committee on Friday.

President Muhammadu Buhari had, on Wednesday, signed the COVID-19 Health Protection Regulations, 2021, as part of efforts to curtail the spread of the disease in the country.

The law prescribes six-month jail term for persons convicted for disobeying any COVID-19 guideline.

Mr Abass warned that ”any trader, who failed, neglected or refused to enforce the provisions of the regulations”, would be subjected to disciplinary action by the association.

According to him, henceforth, no member or buyer will be allowed to make transactions without wearing a face mask, adding “in view of this, we are planning to produce large quantities of customised face masks for our members”.

He said members should also maintain physical distance while at the market and wash their hands before and after attending to customers.

Mr Abbas said the association was organising a sensitisation programme across the country on the need for members to observe the COVID-19 protocols.

“We have drawn the attention of all the state chapters and local governments to organise workshops in order to enlighten and educate our members.

“This enlightenment has become necessary because most of our rural traders are not well-educated, even with the law that was recently signed by the president.

Also, the Chairman, Board of Trustee, MATAN, Mohammed Labaran, said the association was planning to reduce food prices in the country.

Mr Labaran noted that the association, during its last meeting with BOT members, had come up with plans on how it could assist the masses by ensuring that food items were affordable in the market.

“We have realised that one of the major factors responsible for the increase in prices of foodstuff is transportation.

“So we are presently having a plan to approach the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) for the association to produce trucks that members can pay back gradually in a couple of years.

“These trucks will be given to all core traders in the northern and southern parts of the country so that they can transport their goods to their destinations without any hindrance.”

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