We’re not bothered about washing hands, let’s get water to drink first’
Days after the lockdown order in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), residents who live on the lower rungs of the social ladder have begun to fret about how they would get food to eat and portable water. Most of Abuja’s suburbs do not have portable water and residents depend on vendors to get their supply from boreholes. Grace Ijeoma lives in a slum at Abattoir, Karu, a suburb of Abuja, with her three children. She is one of millions of Nigerians who live from hand to mouth, so the lockdown means that getting her daily sustenance is a big challenge.
“We are not talking about washing hands. Let us get enough water to drink and bath. In this lockdown we are afraid we might run out of resources, so we have to manage,” she said. Some of the vendors who supply water in the area said they could not comply with the lockdown because they had to meet residents’ water need, and at the same time, earn a living. They noted that water was getting scarce now that more people are at home and use more water. They added that some vendors who left for their home states before the lockdown had made it difficult for those of them who stayed behind to meet the high demand for water by residents.
“Because people are staying at home more than normal, they need more water, and the few of us cannot meet their demand. Some people just have to manage the water because they can’t get enough,” a vendor, Ahmad Sani, said. Tunji Adeboye also said, “This is the third day of the lockdown and we are already feeling the impact. I am afraid of what would happen in the next few days because we depend solely on what we earn daily. This will be tough for us.”
Daily Trust Saturday observed that businesses were also opened at Durumi III, Lokogoma and Utako village, Abuja’s prominent slum areas. Some residents who spoke with our reporters said they could not stay at home for 14 days and do nothing because they lacked a sustainable source of income. A welder at Durumi III said he had to open his workshop so that he could get money to feed his family. The man, who pleaded anonymity and operated without a signpost at his workshop, said he resided in the community and had no challenge coming to his workshop.
A vulcaniser at Lokogoma, who identified himself as James, said there would be nothing for him to eat if he did not work. He said the risk of disobeying the lockdown was worth it as his family could also risk going to bed without food if he stayed at home. At Utako village, a cobbler, Isah Abdul, said he had walked round the community and other places looking for customers, but business was not the same anymore. He, however, added, “The little I have made is worth it.”
Abdul, who spoke in Hausa language, was resting under a tree before a motorist parked to polish his shoes. There was a mild drama when Abdul insisted on collecting N100 for polishing a pair of black sandals while the motorist disagreed as he was ready to part with only N50. Abdul said the lockdown led to the increase in price as they later settled for N80.