By Ukpono Ukpong
Market business hours in the Federal Capital Territory has been extended by one hour, and is now to run from 8am to 3pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The Minister Federal Capital Territory Administration, Mallam Mohammed Bello, gave the directive during a review meeting on the Administration’s COVID 19 pandemic response strategy also urged Abuja Markets Management Limited (AMML) to liaise with the FCT Area Councils to ensure full implementation of all COVID 19 Pandemic protocols with regards to the markets across all the nooks and crannies of the FCT.
While noting that the directive takes effect from the next market day Saturday April 25, against the earlier approved time of 10am to 2pm, the Minister also directed the decongestion of the existing markets through the establishment of Neighbourhood Selling Points in the various districts within the Federal Capital City by Abuja Markets Management Limited.
However, Malam Bello urged FCT residents to support the intent of the lockdown by patronizing markets in their neighbourhoods.
Furthermore, the Minister also ordered the clamp down on residents who hide under the window of market days to flout Government directives, explaining that the concept of Neighbourhood Selling Points is aimed at taking pressure off the existing markets in the FCT through the provision of an initial 40 units -adopting either public schools or green areas where they exist- across the various districts in the Federal Capitalcl City.
This according to him, will further enhance the attainment of social distancing among residents which is a key requirement for eventual winning of the battle against the dreaded virus.
In order to ensure quick set up of the Neighbourhood Selling Points therefore, the Minister further directed relevant FCTA Secretariats, Departments and Agencies to support AMML to actualize this mandate, even as he re-echoed the mandatory use of face mask for anyone who intends to access any market facility.
To this end, he mandated the Managing Director, Abuja Markets Management Limited Abubakar, Usman Faruk to ensure that existing selling points for food items within the markets are decentralized immediately to achieve social distancing, even as he encouraged the markets managers to continue to sensitize the markets users on other hand and respiratory hygiene.