Days ago, President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the lockdown will be eased off gradually, commencing on Monday 4th May 2020 when selected businesses will be allowed to operate between the hours of 9 am and 6 pm with a curfew being imposed from 8 pm to 6 am.
To a teeming population, chiefly living on a daily income, most of whom had suddenly been reduced to begging cap-in-hand for survival over the past four weeks of the state/federal government imposed lockdown, PMB’s announcement sounded like music to the ears. The excitement in the air was palpable.
But after the first wave of excitement, the population awakes today to the calming realization that the president left many questions unanswered: What are the selected businesses that will be allowed to operate? Why did the president keep Nigerians in suspense on that point? What is the basis for the selection? Why select? Who makes the selection? What palliatives would be put in place for those businesses that will not be allowed to operate?
The excitement of businesses, particularly in Lagos, would be further doused when actual working time is considered. According to the finding of a research by JCDecaux Grace Lake Nigeria, published in Business Day on 11th December 2018, commuters in Lagos spend an average of 30 hours in traffic weekly.
This translates to an average of six hours per day for a five-day workweek. In effect, the nine-hour daily working window graciously granted by the federal government to the selected businesses would translate to about a maximum of six hours actual working time for many Lagosians, all factors considered.
In conclusion, when planning within the immediate post-COVID-19 lockdown environment, every reasonable employer allowed to operate must consider the actual working time available for most employees, in the light of the president’s announcement.
Elvira Salleras is the managing partner of Elvira Salleras + Associates, a corporate commercial and general practice law firm, based in Lagos