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Business News of Thursday, 26 March 2020

Source: GNA

Traders express mixed reactions over possible lockdown

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Traders in the Central Business District of Accra have expressed divergent views about a possible lockdown of the country as a measure to help fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While some of the traders think a lockdown would be good to help slow down infection of the virus, others said the impact would be too heavy for them and their families.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency, Madam Janet Amponsah, a trader who deals in soft drinks and bottled water, said a lockdown would impact heavily on their finances and make it difficult for them to meet their loan obligations to banks.

“For some of us who are single parents, we depend solely on daily sales to survive and to meet the needs of other family members. If government locks down the country, survival would be very difficult. I am not feeling very well but because of the loan I am forced to be in the shop,” she said.

Madam Amponsah said a way-out would be for the government to either dialogue with the banks to reduce the interest rates on loans or for government to set aside some funds to support traders in case the need arises for a lockdown.

She also called on government to collaborate with corporate institutions and individuals to exploit other options such as mass distribution of hand sanitizers to citizens and intensify education on the pandemic through diverse means.

The trader said most people who spend the night in the markets and some other rural dwellers did not have televisions, radios and other means of getting information, as such, health personnel should be deployed to various communities to educate the public on the pandemic and the precautionary measures to be observed.

On his part, Nana Antwi, a trader who sells stationeries, said even though a lockdown would affect their finances, it was necessary for government to take such a decision for the good of the citizenry.

He said the increase in recorded cases had heightened fear among citizens, and many people currently preferred to stay indoors than to come to town and this had negatively affected sales since the announcement of the outbreak in the country.

Mr Kwabena Elijah, a dealer in cosmetics, said government should exercise restraint in announcing a lockdown until all possible precautionary measures had been exhausted.

“A lockdown will spell doom for some of us who do not sell edible products. Those who sell foodstuffs can easily hoard some of their goods for use but those of us who sell cosmetics, utensils and the like, will be very much in distress. Government should relax and consider other options rather than a lockdown,” he stated.

In case the need arises for a lockdown, Mr Elijah suggested government should rather consider a partial lockdown and rotate between markets so that overcrowding is prevented even as the needs of citizens are still met.

Mr Kwasi Bright and Mrs Peggy Annan, both dealers in second-hand clothing said government should go ahead with a lockdown if that was going to salvage the situation.

However, they called for financial support due to a fall in sales otherwise, “starvation would rather kill us instead of the Coronavirus,” Mrs Annan said.

Mr Kwasi Bright advised citizens to adhere to the precautionary measures outlined by health professionals such as avoiding handshakes, practicing regular handwashing, and applying hand sanitizers, covering the nose and mouth when sneezing or coughing among others.

Ghana’s count for Covid-19 has increased to 52 with two recorded deaths. Over 1,030 people have been put on mandatory quarantine after a shutdown at the various points of entry.

Meanwhile, the GNA observed that most traders were yet to return to the market a day after a fumigation exercise.