We don’t work, we don’t eat’: Informal workers face stark choices as Africa’s largest megacity shuts down

We don’t work, we don’t eat’: Informal workers face stark choices as Africa’s largest megacity shuts down

Many countries in Africa are imposing lockdowns on their citizens as they race to curb the spread of coronavirus.

But it has further highlighted the wide gulf between rich and poor, as it becomes apparent

that the practicalities of social distancing and lockdowns are a privilege millions of people in Africa simply cannot afford.

Read Also: Lists of markets shut down in Lagos

On Monday night, Nigeria became the latest country on the continent to impose a 14-day lockdown in major states across

the country as President Muhammadu Buhari invoked a law from the country’s colonial era.

But the millions of Nigerians such as food vendors, hairdressers, cleaners, and others

who earn their wages daily and make up the informal job market, say they are faced with stark choices.

‘We don’t work, we don’t eat’
Cecilia Achonwa runs a local roadside restaurant in Yaba, a suburb in Lagos mainland selling affordable lunch packs to students and local businesses.

Government, banks and wealthy individuals contribute billions to fight coronavirus in Nigeria
Government, banks and wealthy individuals contribute billions to fight coronavirus in Nigeria

Before coronavirus, her food business saw lines of people forming to buy their meals. Now they are all gone and her business has almost collapsed, she says.

The 53-year-old says she is responsible for the welfare of five chefs who were hired from neighboring West African country Togo.

What they are managing now is their allowance and the remaining foodstuff that I

had stocked at the restaurant to sell this month when that finishes, we’ll have nothing,” she told CNN.

In the lead up to the shutdown, Lagos, a bustling metropolis with around 20 million people, was thronging with crowds

as shoppers raced around to stock up to beat the 11 p.m. deadline set for the shutdown of the city against coronavirus.

People walk in a crowded market in defiance to a social spacing order, to make last minute shopping ahead of a curfew, at the Mushin Market in Lagos.

People walk in a crowded market in defiance to a social spacing order, to make last minute shopping ahead of a curfew,

at the Mushin Market in Lagos.
But many could barely afford to stock up as prices had increased.

Some people are shouting, they are crying and going home without buying anything. Things are too expensive,” Felicia Emmanuel, a trader at the Obalende market told CNN.

“It’s bad ooo, a lot of people, it’s the profit they make per day is what they will eat. As they are shutting down now,

I wonder what it will look like, hungry will kill some people. We pray that government should do something about it. We are begging them, they should help us,” she added.

Culled from CNN News

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