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COVID-19/Decontamination of Rivers State: A Bold Step By Gov. Nyesom Wike

Given the obvious fact that the vaccine for a permanent cure for the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic is not at sight and may take longer than expected to be available, various nations across the globe are beginning to resume normal life as total ban on vehicular and human movements and shutdown of business activities are being gradually lifted notwithstanding the steady increase in the number of infected persons by the dreaded scourge.

Given the obvious fact that the vaccine for a permanent cure for the ravaging Coronavirus pandemic is not at sight and may take longer than expected to be available, various nations across the globe are beginning to resume normal life as total ban on vehicular and human movements and shutdown of business activities are being gradually lifted notwithstanding the steady increase in the number of infected persons by the dreaded scourge.

In Nigeria, the number of infected persons has crossed the ten thousand mark while in Rivers State, the list of confirmed cases currently stands at above two hundred.

Though the figures are relatively low compared to the number of confirmed cases in the more advanced western world where the pandemic first hit, the fear is that if more proactive measures are not taken to contain the spread of this disease given our poor health system and all health facilities in a sorry state, the situation will be catastrophic.

It’s against this backdrop that the ongoing decontamination of all public places across the 23 Local Government Areas of the state by the Governor Wike administration is most commendable.

Earlier, in a bid to protect the precious lives of Rivers people and those doing business in the state, the state government deemed it imperative and compelling to close down all major markets, public schools including tertiary institutions, hotels and restaurants, shops, motor parks, all borders, etc.

There was also ban on weddings, burials, church programmes and the like. In addition, the state government ordered for total lockdown of Port Harcourt and Obio/Akpor Local Government Areas being the hub of business, oil and gas activities in the state.

All these and many more including the compulsory wearing of face masks were the necessary measures taken to ensure that the Coronavirus pandemic  did not spread in the state following the first index case of a young lady who was later found to have arrived Port Harcourt sometime in February this year after a visit to France.

No doubt, the measures did not go down well with some people in the light of the concomitant hardship and hunger the shutdown engendered.

This became another problem that must be tackled head-on, else all the anti-Covid-19 measures would be rubbished by the possible health challenge and even deaths that might result from the hardship and hunger especially to the sick and the more vulnerable children.

As a leader and compassionate Governor who has the interest and well-being of his people at heart, Gov. Nyesom Wike rose to the occasion by putting the necessary machinery in place for the resultant palliatives to the most vulnerable – the poor, the handicapped, orphans, widows and the aged.

To realize the full imports of the programme, a palliative committee was set up with a seasoned Technocrat, and former Nigerian Ambassador to South Korea, Amb. Desmond Akawor as the Chairman with members chosen from select groups namely: the Clergy, the media, the traditional institution, the youths, women group, NGOs, and all the arms of security agencies as well as the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

The distribution of the palliatives largely foodstuffs – rice, garri, beans, oil, yams, indomie etc was successful as all the 23 Local Government Areas and groups were captured in the first phase.

Despite the remarkable success recorded, the people still cried out of hunger etc, prompting an intermittent relaxation of the lockdown within the period.

As it becomes clearer by the day that the vaccine for the cure of Coronavirus is not readily available, and that the best cure for now is to observe all the precautionary measures of hygiene,  regular washing of hands, the use of alcohol-based sanitizers and social distancing among others, Governor Wike has also demonstrated more than enough capacity to enforce all these measures in the state not only to the envy of his peers across the country but also to the chagrin of political detractors who may have been waiting on the wings to cash in on a possible failure in this regard to score a cheap political point. Thank God that was not to be.

To confound this category of people the more and further prove to the Rivers people that he meant well for them, Gov. Wike, ahead of resumption of full business and school  activities in the state launched the decontamination of public places as part of measures to keep the state safe from Coronavirus pandemic.

The decontamination of all public places – the markets, motor parks, churches, schools, bus stops etc across the state, geared towards the safety of all Rivers people, their children, loved ones and those doing business in the State has started in earnest.

Speaking at the flag-off of the decontamination of public places in Rivers State in Government House, Port Harcourt, on Monday June 1, 2020, Governor Said: “I have always said that the lives of Rivers people and those living and doing business in the State are paramount. Part of the reason why markets are still shut is because we have not decontaminated them”.

“According to Governor Wike: “As we decontaminate the markets, particularly the areas in Obio/Akpor and Port Harcourt Local Government Areas, traders will undertake to abide by all relevant protocols because we are talking about the lives of the people”.

The Governor declared that all public and private schools will be decontaminated before schools will be opened, adding that: “Churches and motor parks will also be decontaminated”.

The decontamination which is the brainchild of the State Administrator, Rivers State Waste Management Agency, RIWAMA, Bro. Felix Obuah is birthed by the fact that the virus can last outside its host by 3 hours, 6 hours, 24 hours and 72 hours respectively, depending on the object.

The Rivers State Government, led by Governor Nyesom Wike decided to embark on the decontamination comprises of three steps which will be carried out simultaneously namely: fumigation of the environments, steam spraying which contains disinfectants that can combat the virus, this will be followed by the disinfectant smoke spray.

The reason for the smoke-spraying is so, that same being airbone will penetrate and reach the areas where fumigation and the steam water could not get through. 

The Rivers State Decontamination Team has fumigated the GRA Junction Bus stop, where pedestrians always keep hands and wait for vehicles, the Abali Park, Mile One Market, Government Girls Secondary School, Oromineke, D/Line, etc

This is insightful, visionary, proactive and a bold step by His Excellency, Chief Barr. Nyesom Wike, CON, GSSRS, PoS (Africa) and deserves to say the least, a resounding thumbs-up.

Well done Your Excellency, Sir.

 

Jerry Needam, is a practising Journalist based in Port Harcourt, Rivers State