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SMEs, private sector workers groan over lockdown

SMEs, Some small businesses and workers in the private sector on Friday expressed concern over the negative impacts of the COVID-19  lock down which had disrupted socio-economic activities across the country.

SMEs

They told the  News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in an interview in Lagos that government needed to firm up its efforts at combating the dreaded virus so that people could go back to their daily lives.

Mr Ayooluwa Shoga, a business owner and major distributor of plastic chairs, said that the COVID-19 pandemic had created an unprecedented situation for most businesses.

He said many businesses had been caught unawares, noting that  this was so, especially in Nigeria where initial plans and strategies made at the beginning of the year could no longer be followed through.

“The pandemic has caused major disruption of the normal flow of business processes in view of the need for social distancing in order to curb the spread of the virus.

“Regardless of the fact that the  lockdown is intended to curb the spread of the virus, miscellaneous expenses are still been incurred, wages still have to be paid, rent has not stopped, interest on bank loan is still being charged.

“However, little or no revenue is been made at this time. So this is a particularly challenging period for businesses.

“If the virus-induced lockdown tarries further, owners of businesses will be forced to take hard decisions like laying off staff, rolling back on expansion and  renegotiating contracts or existing loans,” Shoga said.

Also Mr Opeyemi Oretuyi, a Media Strategist, said that this was a challenging period for the country, noting that the outbreak was crippling the Nigerian economy as most companies could no longer operate at full capacity.

He said by asking people to stay at home, the goverment hoped to slow and reverse the rate at which the COVID-19 virus was  spreading.

Oretuyi, however, said that the  outbreak had not only affected big companies and businesses but also petty traders who hawked on a daily basis to  put food on the table for their families.

He urged the Federal Government to  provide appropriate support and relief packages for citizens who depended on daily sales to feed their families.

Oretuyi added that aside from the federal government supporting its citizens with palliatives, the Bank of Industry and Central Bank could also assist by reducing interest rates for those that had existing loans.

“It is really a scary situation that no country planned for and as much as the Coronavirus induced lockdown is affecting businesses,  I think it is safe to adhere to the directives given by the government so that we can curb the spread of the virus, “he said.

Mrs Aramide Adeshuyan, who works with a private firm, noted that the situation on ground might make it difficult for companies to pay salaries, noting that no form of profit was being generated due to the virus outbreak and lockdown directives.

She noted that the lockdown directive  had made a lot of people resort to panic buying, hence leaving them with little savings in their accounts.

“Most people have spent their money to shop for essential things needed in the house with no hope of getting paid at the end of the month.

“I know the government is trying its best to handle the situation on ground but at the same time I think some palliatives should be put in place for citizens.

“Loss of income will be the immediate concern for individuals who have been contributing to household consumption through their entrepreneurial activities,” Adeshuyan said.

Mr Goriola Sodipo, who works with a telecommunication company, said that although the virus outbreak  had affected so many businesses, the reverse was the case for cable television stations and tech companies.

“From my own perspective, the lockdown directive has boosted revenue for cable television and providers of online streaming service as more people now rely on electronics for entertainment and church services,” Sodipo said.

Bola Awoniyi, Marketing Manager at TATA Nigeria, also said that the  outbreak had affected so many activities in the country especially businesses.

Awoniyi said that the outbreak and the lockdown directive should be a wake up call for many business owners, noting that if most businesses had leveraged on the use of technology, generating revenue would  be easier.

Mr Lanre Farotimi, Managing Director of PAIT Advanced Solution Limited, said that the lockdown directive had slowed down business activities.

“New job opportunities are not coming for those of us providing consultancy and business advisory services.

“Also a lot of ongoing business discussions have been put on hold until the restriction is lifted.

“Payments from completed jobs have also been delayed by both government and private sectors.

“Government should hasten up the process of contact tracing and provide more effective palliatives to Nigerians, especially for those  living in states that are currently locked down.

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Mr Cletus Inaede, a church worker, said that the outbreak of the virus and lockdown was affecting many churches as most of them now spend a lot of money on streaming  services online.

Mrs Deola Eka, Chief Executive Officer, Crystal Technology, urged the federal government to support its citizens by providing reasonable palliatives, noting that a lot of people had lost their sources of income as a result of the outbreak and lock down directive.

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Ada Ada

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