With the 80% increase in crime rates in Lagos, Ogun and Ibadan cities, one is forced to question the decision of the Federal Government in imposing a total restriction of movement in those areas.
As at Thursday evening, multiple reports started coming in about numerous armed robberies taking place in some area in Ogun State. Just this evening, a report came in concerning a robbery in Alimosho LGA of Lagos State.
Some have attributed this increase in heinous crimes as a result of imposing total restriction of movement in a country where more than 60% of its citizens survive through daily income.
On the other hand, others have also argued that these crimes have been ongoing even before the lockdown and it is just a case of these hoodlums having justification and having more freedom to increase their normal activities.
To make matters worse, the authorities have been accused of not responding to distress calls from victims of these crimes. This brings us to the question:Should the government overturn its decision and lift the ban thereby putting millions of Nigerians at risk of contracting the virus? Is there a middle ground that serves the two sides?
Here are some measures proposed by W. Gyude Moore, of the Center for Global Development to curb the spread of the virus and also prevent civil unrest in African Nations:
Impose curfews not total movement bans.The idea is to restrict movement and limit the spread of the disease. We can reconfigure access to public spaces without a total lockdown.
Enlist local community leaders to ensure compliance with movement restrictions:Social capital, like physical capital, is built over time and cannot be manufactured in time of crisis. Authorities ought to expand the outreach beyond the state to incorporate community leaders, who have legitimacy with their communities. Citizens need to see their adherence to restrictions as a civic contribution to country, community and their own families.
Mandatory mask-wearing. People should not be allowed in public without masks because evidence is now showing that mass mask use contributes to preventing the spread. Heads of state, cabinet ministers and other high ranking government officials should always wear masks these masks when they appear in public.
Continue to improve and expand testing: Invest in those tests as a means of expanding testing to isolate even the asymptomatic and prevent spread.
Expand definition of essential services.Essential services should include farmers, motorcycle and tricycle taxi riders, food vendors in local markets, farmers, and mobile phone company employees. With a reduction in imports, local markets will depend overwhelmingly on domestic agricultural products. Support to farmers through the provision of fertilizer and other input should be a part of policy intervention.
Like marketing associations, these taxis also have their associations, work with them. Each one should only be allowed to take two passengers. A plastic covering ought to separate riders from driver and a smaller one put in the middle to separate riders. Tricycle riders must keep a sanitizing liquid in the taxi to wipe it down after each trip.