The Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19 recently issued a travel advisory, cautioning Nigerians to avoid non- essential travel outside the country for the yuletide. In this report, Ejike Ejike writes that some desperate Nigerians are willing to defy the ban irrespective of the pandemic.
It is no longer news that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic crippled the socio, economic and political activities in the country since March, 2020.
As the reality of the pandemic dawns on Nigeria, the country, like the rest of the world is doing everything that requires social distancing to halt a possibility upsurge in the …..
The impact of these measures aimed at reducing the spread of the virus has hit the economy too. These impacts , if not curtailed are likely to cripple the economies of most states and may lead to the collapse of fragile economies.
Presently, Nigeria’s economy is facing collapse as it recently slipped into a second recession . The oil markets have been on a downward trend as COVID-19 has crippled demand. Fuel prices fell and recorded 18-year low trading at less than 22 dollars per barrel and expected to go lower.
To salvage the situation , the PTF advised intending travellers preparing for the yuletide to remain in their respective locations as part of measures put in place towards controlling the spread of COVID-19 during the festive season.
While briefing journalists, the coordinator, PTF, Dr Sani Aliyu said the government is discouraging Nigerians abroad to stop all travelling arrangements during this periods.
He explained that though intended travellers have the right to do empowered to do so, the travel advice became necessary followinthe upsurge of COVID-19 pandemic across the world.
Aliyu also noted that there could be risks of being stranded in any part of the world after the Christmas celebration and in order to avoid these problems, all non-essential travels should be suspended for now.
On the protocol for travellers, the coordinator noted that all intending travelers from abroad must come in with valid COVID-19 test results, pay for the second test in Nigeria, isolate for seven days and test on the seventh day before joining the community.
Meanwhile, some Nigerians that spoke with LEADERSHIP Sunday said they had already made plans since they have important things to do.
A commercial driver, John Chukwudi said the advice would not affect his transport business as he has already started accepting advanced booking for trips throughout the period.
According to him, he already has a charter agreement from December 18th to January, 2021 which means that any advice will not affect his work.
For Chief Sunny, a business man in Kubwa, his planned trip cannot be changed due to the fear of COVID-19, saying that he has marriage and other family engagement to take care of.
According to him, how can I cancel all the arrangements that I have made because of mere advice when a lot of plans have been put in place to carry out this function? I will definitely travel”.
The aviation sector was not left out in the rush for Christmas travel.
LEADERSHIP Sunday findings showed that air fares increased as was done during every festive period. For example, all travels to the Eastern region have been fully booked to 90 percent capacity, with a return ticket costing over N100, 000.
Some travellers intending to fly by air, expressed their desire to continue with the trip despite federal government’s warning.
According to them, they have already concluded plans and cannot cancel it because of COVID-19.
A senior staff of one of the Commercial banks, John Ameh, who has already booked his flight for the Christmas celebration, explained that it’s during the holidays that they have time to travel and there is no way he would not travel because of the advice on COVID-19.
He insisted that instead of cautioning Nigerians against travel, the federal government should have urged people to be more conscious and careful and observe all necessary protocols whenever they travel because Nigerians must do what they want to do.
For some people, they have no plans of travelling. They insisted that whether there is COVID-19 or not, they will remain in their domain because of paucity of funds.
According to Emmanuel Paul from Plateau state, travelling will cost more and with the way things are in Nigeria presently and with the frequent changes in the prices of goods and services every day, he cannot afford to travel.
He stated that it’s better for him to remain in Abuja and continue with his small business till the pandemic ends.
Abdullahi Sule is of the opinion that he won’t travel since he is a Muslim.
Sule, who operates a provision store in Abuja, further said he would do his business here and will not have that chance to travel, as he is not involved in the celebration of Christmas.
Adamu Bello, who owns a transport company, noted that he would carry his passengers during the period, as the advice will not affect him.
He insisted that his passengers are always available for travel and no COVID-19 can stop such a plan.