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Fear over coronavirus intensifies panic buying, gridlocks in Lagos

By Temitope Akintoye,

For a whole week Gridlock along Ikorodu expressway axis of Lagos State has ground commuters to a forced halt with both inward bound and out bound lanes of the six-lane expressway filled with stranded vehicles headed for various destinations along the route.

The Guild gathered that the traffic gridlock was as a result of high influx of Lagosians to the Mile 12 International Market which saw a sudden rush of customers buying goods and perishable food items with intent to store for future use in light of prevalent uncertainty concerning coronavirus incidence in the state.

The Guild observed the flood of consumers as they hurriedly bought household items, with some causing obstructions to free flow of traffic in a bid to make their purchases from the market traders, and stock their houses with daily living necessities.

Due to high demand of fear-driven purchases of items, market prices of basic necessities and food items were seen to have risen steeply, with staples like tomatoes, rice, beans and the like being sold for up to two-times their regular prices, as well the forced scarcity of other household items.

Olaoluwa, a stay at home mum who had come to Mile 12 market to stock up her pantry, explained that renewed incidence of the coronavirus in the state had made it advisable for people to stay indoors pending resolution of the deadly pandemic, and that it was therefore important to buy all items her family could possible need so that they could plan for a couple of weeks indoors.

For some, however, such as Anu, the need to buy items had been fuelled by the actions of her neighbours who, she said, had bought everything they could possibly need to live on for a while, and adding that she had come to the market to do likewise.

When asked why she thought it was a good idea to buy and hoard food items, she reiterated that everyone was doing it and that it had to mean that there was something they were preparing against, for which she did not want to be left behind.

On the part of the market traders, christmas had come early as they eagerly put up their items for sale at exorbitant prices, which, however, did not stop Lagosians from buying in order to stock up against possibility of forced isolation of their families, due to coronavirus threat in the state.

“Why will I complain? Let them buy everything because that was my prayer before I came out this morning. Let them come, I will come again tomorrow, and everyday after that”, said Abdul, a tomato seller in the market.

For plantain seller, Joy, who had sold all her wares, made huge profits and was packing up in order to see if she could purchase some more within to market to sell to her teeming expectant customers, she said, “I don’t know why everybody is just rushing like this. But I can not complain, see my market has finished, I just want to try if i can see more because they are still plenty that want to buy”.

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