Empty street in Ikeja, Lagos
Thousands of informal workers and small-scale entrepreneurs in Nigeria, who have been rendered jobless as the lockdown continues in different parts of the country, are counting their losses as government struggles to contain the spread of Coronavirus.
Worried by the decline in their income and the attendant hardship, they are begging government to relax the lockdown or grant them palliatives to survive the period.
Already, there is growing concern that another extension of the lockdown could lead to hunger, frustration and unrest.
Informal workers affected by the lockdown include event planners, caterers, local food vendors, artisans, street traders and other small-scale business owners, who rely on daily income to feed themselves and their families.
The informal sector contributes immensely to Nigeria’s economy.
Economic measures put in place by the federal and state governments have been faulted because of its coordination and implementation.
Many workers and families complained that they received nothing from the government.
The informal workers spoke in separate interviews with SaharaReporters on Tuesday.
“Since this total lockdown started, my make-up business has stopped due to the fact that nobody is organising parties, dinners and get-together again.
“I had wedding jobs this month of April that was supposed to fetch me over N40,000 but they were cancelled due to this lockdown,” Oyindasola Taiwo, a stylist and make-up artist told SaharaReporters.
She lamented that since the outbreak of the virus in Nigeria, her clients had been forced to cancel their parties.
“I’m afraid, if the lockdown is extended again, I might have to collect low pay for jobs.
“Our products are becoming more expensive than it used to be. No job to do, no money,” she said.
Also narrating her ordeal, Event Manager of Tana Explixi, a surprise factory, who simply introduced herself as Toyin, said she had to decline job offers due to the lockdown.
She also said that clients were becoming afraid of patronising them as they may get exposed to the virus.
She said, “In spite of the lockdown, some people still wish to surprise their loved ones but there is no means of transportation to get to the locations.
“Some of our clients had to cancel our job because they are afraid of being infected.
“People working with me are unable to get paid because the company’s funds have gone down since we have not been able to work.”
Mrs Olaniyan, a caterer in Lagos, has a similar tale.
She lamented that her family had resorted to getting loans from friends and families in order to survive due to the lockdown.
“Some of us feed our families with these small jobs that we do weekly.
“We get paid, send children to school and maintain the family but since the lockdown, we have not been able to work.
“No events, no job, children are back home and we struggle to feed especially since the relief materials are not getting to us.
“We have no choice than to go borrowing.
“As soon as this is over, the first thing we have to think about is how to refund these loans,” she said.
Saharareporters, New York