Fred Itua, Fred Ezeh, Okwe Obi, Charity Nwakaudu, Agu Dawn and Benjamin Babine, Abuja
Two weeks after President Muhammadu Buhari declared a total lockdown of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Lagos and Ogun states, to contain the spread of COVID-19, supermarkets and pharmaceutical shops are running out of stock in Abuja.
Following the presidential directive, markets and shops not offering essential services like food items and drugs were shut.
Movement within and into Abuja was stopped. Vehicles conveying essential items were equally barred from entering Abuja through its three major routes.
A visit by Daily Sun to major supermarkets and pharmaceutical shops in key districts of Abuja showed that they were struggling to meet the growing demands of residents who sometimes part with money to pass barricades set by security agents to access the places.
At Sahad Store branches in Area 11 and Central Business District, Abuja, customers besieged the outlets to purchase household and non-household items.
Shelves in both branches were fast becoming empty because some products were out of stock.
A customer, Semira Ahmed, told Daily Sun that the lockdown forced her to visit Sahad Store on Monday to get some specific cosmetics and sanitary items because she couldn’t get it in her neighbourhood, Wuse 7, Abuja.
She said: “Sadly, after several lies and appeals to the police to be allowed get here, I was disappointed. I couldn’t find what I was looking for but the substitute. I was told to check back after the lockdown, perhaps, they would have restocked.”
At Spar supermarket located at the Ceddi Plaza, Abuja, a few customers at the shopping hall were making purchases based on available products.
Some shelves were empty and some sections of the supermarket, particularly the electronics section, were barricaded with clear information to customers that the section was temporarily out of use.
A customer at Spar, who refused to identify himself, said he was happy to have found what he was looking for, after driving around the few open malls in Abuja city centre.
He said: “I have just been hinted that the President, Muhammadu Buhari, will make a national broadcast later today regarding the lockdown and other developments. I hope it will be good news. We can’t wait for this lockdown t to be over. Our lives have been affected greatly and we can’t wait to return to our normal lives.”
At Faith Plaza, Lokogoma, which houses different grocery stores and a pharmacy, hordes of customers were demanding chloroquine drug, face masks and hand gloves, which were in short supply.
A visibly angry resident, Maria Daudu, said she had visited so many pharmacies to get chloroquine and other drugs but did not find them.
According to her, after spending hours, she was told to locate another pharmacy because the drug was not available.
“The Federal Government must, as a matter of urgency, ensure sufficient supply of drugs and other protective kits. The shortage of drugs could be likened to fuel scarcity. I have moved from one pharmacy to another to get drugs but all I hear is that they have run out of stock. It would not be a bad idea for government to relax the lockdown to allow inflow of drugs. It would be penny wise, pound foolish, for us to be locked at home without drugs,” she said.
Management of Matmax Pharmacy declined comment, saying it would speak at “the right time.”
The situation at H-Medix, situated at Gimbia Street, Garki, was no different.
Most customers did not find it funny when told of the unavailability of drugs; they pleaded with government to find a palliative to salvage the situation.
A retired civil servant, Mohammed Saidu, said the situation would double the cases of coronavirus because, according to him, residents would go out of their way in search of drugs.
A senior management staff, who did not want his name mentioned, admitted that most pharmacies had run out of drugs. But he assured our correspondent that drugs would be supplied before the end of week.
Some shop owners said they have had to travel to neighbouring states like Niger and Nasarawa to buy foodstuffs very early to restock their stores, spending extra money on transportation and bribing security agents stationed on the roads.