Imo relaxes lockdown of markets, approves soft loans for traders
• Gives Miss Opara scholarship, N500, 000 for winning essay contest
• Governor distributes 27 ambulances to councils
In a bid to cushion the effects of coronavirus, the Imo State Government has directed relaxation of lockdown of major markets and approved soft loans for traders and small business owners.
Speaking at a meeting with executive of the Imo State Amalgamated Traders Association (ISAMATA), led by its Chairman, Don-Chris Okere at Government House, Owerri, Governor Hope Uzodinma directed that markets be fully opened in the interim on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
The governor, who ordered the closure of the markets about three months ago in the wake of rising cases of the COVID-19 pandemic, said he took the decision to avoid crippling the state’s economy and ensure the survival of Imo people, urging them to use the period to activate their businesses.
He tasked the leaders of ISAMATA to ensure that traders comply with safety guidelines and protocols, such as temperature check, hand washing with running water, wearing of face masks, observing social distancing, ensuring standard hygiene and clean environment, among others.
On the soft loans, he promised that his administration would ensure that the people access empowerment packages, including Federal Government’s palliatives.
He enjoined the leadership of the group to compile the list of members, to make such gestures easier and constituted a committee comprising the Commissioner for Special Projects, Chairman, Board of Internal Revenue (BIR) and Special Adviser on IGR to monitor compliance of markets reopening.
Responding, Okere commended the state government for the opportunity and expressed gratitude to Governor Uzodinma for appointing some of them to sensitive positions such as the COVID-19 Containment Committee.
Besides, the state government offered scholarship to 15-year-old secondary school student, Miss Goodness Opara of Anara Community Secondary School, Isiala Mbano to any level for winning the maiden edition of the Year 2020 Shared Prosperity Secondary School Essay Competition.
During the event at Government House, Owerri, Governor Uzodinma also gave her a cash prize of N500, 000, while the first and second runners-up got N250, 000 each.
Meanwhile, to drive healthcare at the grassroots level, the state government distributed 27 ambulances to the 27 local councils of the state. Presenting the vehicles to chairmen of the Interim Management Committees (IMCs), yesterday, the Deputy Governor, Professor Placid Njoku, noted that health issues were priority to the administration, urging the council chiefs to use the vehicles judiciously, stressing, “Health is wealth.”
He tasked them to make health of their people their primary responsibility.Receiving the ambulances, Chairman state chapter of the Association of Local Government of Nigeria (ALGON), Willie Okoliogwo, promised that the vehicles would be judiciously applied.
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