- Title: Nigerian newspaper vendor struggles to stay afloat amid Lagos lockdown
- Date: 10th April 2020
- Summary: BILLBOARD READING: "NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT, LAGOS"
- Keywords: Coronavirus lockdown Economy Newspaper vendor
- Reuters ID: LVA005C8WQHQV
- Location: LAGOS
- City: LAGOS
- Country: Nigeria
- Duration: 00:00:07
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Topics: Health/Medicine
- Story Text: With his newspaper stand strategically placed on the same highway leading to the domestic and international airports in the commercial city of Lagos, Arthur Michael was sure of a steady purchase of papers by those coming in to the boisterous city.
After over 20 years of begin in the business, Michael says the recent ban on commercial and international flights, and the subsequent closure of companies as Nigeria battles to contain the spread of the coronavirus, has impacted his business negatively.
"Everything has reduced patapata (completely), before I used to carry like maybe 20 copies of punch (newspapers) but now I have reduced it to 10 because of the situation because so many companies that I used to supply they have close, so that is the problem, it is affecting generally," Michael told Reuters.
Lock-downs, initially slated to last 14 days, began in Lagos and the capital, Abuja, on March 30.
Prior to the official announcement of the lock-down, most companies had already shut offices and started working from home.
The government says it has begun making cash transfers to the country's poorest households, but many hawkers and other informal traders do not have bank or mobile money accounts to pay into even if they were eligible.
But Michael who still has to send money home to his wife and kids, said the lock-down and promised cash transfers are still a mirage as people still force themselves to come out despite the lock-down.
"You can see people trying to force themselves to come out, because some people does not even have even ad derica (form of measurement) of garri (cassava flakes) in their homes, with the children and family, and you want them to go and stay at home for good 14 days, so my sister as you can see yourself, it is not even working, people are forcing themselves to come out and they want to enforce to go inside just like that, and they don't have anything at home," said Michael.
Yet, Michael continues to come out every day, with the hope that someone will buy from him, only a few media houses have a return policy for unsold papers, the others he has to bear the cost if not sold.
But a few hours after watching him and the people surrounding his stand, not even one person bought a paper.
"Nothing to move around, and you can see people standing, it is not as if they don't want to buy papers, but there is no money, everyone is just calculating how do I sustain myself and my family from now till tomorrow, only tomorrow here, we are not even talking of one week." Michale said.
Africa's most populous nation, which has reported more than 280 cases of the coronavirus, is still recovering from a recession caused by dwindling oil prices.
The coronavirus crisis has piled more pressure on the Nigerian government's finances at a time when it was already struggling with a slump in the price of oil, the mainstay of the economy.
(Seun Sanni, Angela Ukomadu)
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