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BY NNENNA OFOMA
Owerri, Imo State capital, is one of the cities in the country not exempted from the coronavirus pandemic. There are few reported confirmed cases of the virus.The state government had imposed a lockdown, including a dusk to dawn curfew as part of measures to check the spread of the virus.
Majority of the citizenry complied substantially until residents began to complain of its biting effects. After two weeks, the lockdown was relaxed. The state government, announced the lifting of the ban on burials.Markets were re- opened while gathering of people of not more than 50 persons were prohibited.
It has not been easy for Owerri residents after lifting of the lockdown. The banks are hitting hard on residents with their tough rules. Residents now go through the eye of the needle to access their money from the banks.
Most banks in Owerri, in line with Covid 19 regulations, have introduced stiff measures, aimed at regulating the activities of customers who daily throng their premises for one transaction or the other.
Most customers at the banks described their experience as “hellish” on the grounds that the measures put in place by the banks are cumbersome and tasking.
Mr. Okechukwu Evans, in his narration said “after the Covid 19, you cannot go to a bank and finish your business there in less than one hour. You may even spend the whole day there because the measures they introduced are tough and cumbersome.
It has been observed that most bank premises in Owerri are filled to the brim with customers who are given serial numbers and wait for many hours before they are called in to carry out their transactions.
Aside the banks, there has been noticeable rise in the use of face masks by residents ostensibly in compliance to the directive of the state government that all residents should put on protective cover.
Mr. Fred Okebata, a trader said using the face mask has become part of him.
“It was difficult at the initial stage. I was not used to it, but now it has become part of me” he said
The observance of covid 19 protocols such as social distancing in the markets has not been impressive. Both buyers and sellers do not observe the rules. However, some traders provide hand washing facilities for theie customers.
Public transportation has resumed fully though most of them are filled to the brim with passengers, some of them without face masks.
Night life which used to be at the peak before the lockdown has reduced considerably. The state government had banned night clubbing in the state making it difficult for fun seekers to enjoy night life.