By Mumini AbdulKareem
Newspaper vendors in Kwara State have lamented the impact of the ongoing lockdown imposed by the state government over the Covid-19 pandemic saying it has significantly affected their businesses.
Following the federal government decision to impose the lockdown, many states including Kwara have domesticated the move in an attempt to stop the spread of the highly contagious virus which has had its toll on governance and business activities in both public and private sectors in the state.
When this reporter visited some of the popular newsstands around post office and unity areas of the state around 3:00pm on two occasions, the places were empty and deserted in complete contrast of the situation before the government decision.
Journalists and by extension vendors have been exempted from the lockdown and sit-at-home order, with most of the reports dominated by the covid-19 coverage activities in all states across the country.
Speaking on the issue, vendors in Ilorin while praising the actions of government aimed at curbing the spread of the pandemic lamented negative impact it has had on newspaper business and called on the government to render assistance to cushion the effect.
A vendor at Unity road junction, who identified himself as Adex, said the situation has had adverse effect on the sector in the state.
“The lockdown has grossly affected the sales and distribution of newspaper in Kwara adding that they have lost about seventy percent of the market to the pandemic and even struggling to retain the reaming 30 percent.
“It has really affected sales and we now have to rely on house to house distribution of our regular customers for those that we have their phone numbers. Then I used to sell over 70 papers daily but now, I struggle to sale even 35 copies combined. It has been difficult and we ask the government to also consider us for palliatives because we also have families”, he noted.
According to Baba Ogo Oluwa popularly known as Olohunyo, the issue is indescribable. Speaking during a telephone chat with National Pilot on the issue, he said some of their subscribers have suspended the service.
“It’s beyond what one can describe in words as nobody is coming out because of the total lockdown. Even most of those that we used to supply except few have stopped pending the time the situation normalises (to save the budget for other pressing needs). What we rely on now are sales from our supply to Government House, Deputy Governor and the SSG’s offices among others. Even the University has said we should stop for now”, he noted.
Another vendor who operates under the Post Office Bridge in the state while lamenting the situation said the refusal of banks to operate during the lockdown has compounded their problem.
The vendor who did not give his name told National Pilot that “It has been a very frustrating experience. Nobody is coming out to buy paper and the few that manage to come out most times complain about being stranded as a result of the refusal of the banks to operate.
“Some will even go with the promise to come back but never return. This has been the issue. Since the lockdown, some of our customers don’t prioritise papers much and some don’t even read at all again (relying on other news medium at home). Others come for the papers of the previous day if they have the chance; it has been very difficult for us.
“Before the official announcement of the lockdown, some of the national dailies including Punch have reduced their supply to Ilorin to limit the number of unsold copies. There is no paper that is not affected. I still have some copies with me now as unsold”, he submitted.