The gradual easing of COVID-19 lockdown gave birth to some guidelines by the Lagos state government which Lagos residents must adhere to prevent further spread of the deadly disease. The measures taken by the state government include, the use of facemask in public places, social distancing, strong personal hygiene, curfew between the hours of 10 pm to 4 am among others. On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, the Lagos state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, in a press briefing said, a total of 769 COVID-19 violators had been arrested by the State Policemen within the last one month. He gave the breakdown that 515 COVID-19 lockdown violators, 101 interstate travel ban violators, 98 facemask use offenders and 55 social distance rule-breakers are presently in the State Police Command custody, and would soon be arraign to face the full wrath of the law. Despite all the arrest, thousands of Lagosians still roam the streets of Lagos without facemask while a lot of others had forgotten the social distance law.
In an interview with a facemask vendor in Ojota Motor Park, Femi Ogunsakin said the use of facemask every time do make breathing more difficult for him and that it always results to tiredness which will prevent him from doing his business.
Femi said “If I should decide to use a facemask for the whole day, I will not be able to do my business very well because each time I use the mask, I always find it difficult to breathe and within a short time I will feel very weak and tired. I have experienced it for more than three times, that is why I stopped using it and started putting it under my chin.”
What Femi said happens to be the experience of most Lagosians, they always have the mask either under their jaw or in their pocket. Probably to prevent Lagos State Policemen arrest or gain access to premises who embrace the policy of facemask, because organizations like Banks, eateries, supermarkets to mention a few will not grant anyone without facemask the opportunity to transact business with them.
98 Lagos residents arrested by Lagos State Policemen must probably be Lagosians who drives a car without facemasks or were in a vehicle without a facemask because I have never seen or heard that Policemen arrested a pedestrian for not using a facemask. Even as lots of Lagosians attested to the fact that they have walked pass police station and Policemen without been arrested and most Police officers are also culpable of not using a facemask.
When asked about not compliance with social distance rule in public places especially while making attempts to get a bus. Mrs Folashade Oyeyemi said the orientation of Lagosians about boarding a bus to their various locations can never make the rule of social distance to be beneficial to them because Lagosians are used to rushing to board a bus which is very much against the social distance rule.
Folashade said, “Considering the numbers of passengers that always queue at the bus stop, you will agree with me that it is only God that has been protecting us. Most passengers don’t longer use a facemask, some will even put it below their the chin and be struggling to enter the bus. If anyone who is positive to COVID-19 and he/she is asymptomatic should sneeze within that period, that means those rushing the bus with the person would probably be infected with the virus. Hope you know that it is not only through sneezing that someone can be infected with the virus, saliva droplet of a positive person is also dangerous. Yet, you see bus conductors who have placed his facemask under his chin shouting over the head of his passengers while in the bus and the passengers without a facemask will still remain calm and not make use of the facemask effectively.”
Though the Lagos State government in March 2020, gave a directive to public transport operators, the guidelines were designed to ensure that passenger spacing is fully observed such as 2m of a minimum distance between passengers to curb the spread of the coronavirus disease in buses, cabs, motor parks and garage. Yet, the measures had been thwarted as a result of impatience on the path of Lagosians.
Logically, it will be difficult to achieve a 2m minimum distance between passengers as the space in these commercial vehicles are far shorter than 2meters. This should give Lagos residents more reason to take their health in their hands and endeavour to strictly adhere to the use of facemask in public places as it is more achievable than social distancing.
By Ife Adewole