Governor of Bayelsa State, Douye Diri has given traders in Swali, the largest market in Yenagoa, a two-month grace period to demolish illegal structures in compliance with the state government’s directive to restore order and public health in all markets.
Douye Diri stated this on Saturday, April 25, 2020, shortly after an unscheduled inspection of the market in which he was accompanied by top government officials, members of the COVID-19 Taskforce in the state, and the market leaders.
In a press release by his acting chief press secretary, Daniel Alabrah, the governor said at the expiration of the period, all illegal structures yet to be demolished would be demolished by the government.
He described as unacceptable the manner illegal structures had been erected, and even taken over the roads into the market despite the fact that there were over 600 unoccupied stalls built by the government.
His words were: “As a result of the ravaging COVID-19 pandemic, we need(ed to ensure that our markets are clean and should not be death traps from where various diseases could be transmitted”.
“I appeal to those in the market to comply with the government’s directive. I commend the market chairman and the woman leader for their cooperation with the government in ensuring that we bring back sanity and public health in this market.”
Diri warned that traders who occupy illegal structures and shanties in other major markets at Opolo, Kpansia, and Tombia in Yenagoa should take a cue from the demolition exercise at the Swali market and take them down on their own to ensure the safety of their wares.
He explained that the move became imperative to reduce overcrowding in markets in the event of an outbreak of the virus, which he described as warfare with an unseen enemy.
“If we have a dirty, shanty market and any person contracts the COVID-19 disease, it would spread to everybody. That is what we are trying to avert,” he stated.
Diri assured the traders that more stalls would be built at the Swali market as well as pipe-borne water and other sanitary facilities provided. He also assured that the request from the Ministry of Trade, Industry, and Investment to sand fill the swampy portions within the market would be approved.
With regards to the restriction of inter-state movement, the governor said after his unscheduled visit to the border towns with neighboring states of Delta and Rivers on Friday, April 24, 2020, additional measures have been put in place to ensure that the lockdown was complied with.