Minister of the Federal Capital Territory FCT, Malam Muhammad Musa Bello has approved the creation of ‘Neighbourhood Selling Points’ and the use of face masks across all markets in the territory.

The development is part of measures to decongest existing markets and effect more compliance with the social distancing and lockdown policy of government in the wake of the outbreak of Covid-19.

Bello also approved the extension of business hours for markets in the FCT  to now run from 8am to 3 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

Managing Director, Abuja Markets Management Limited AMML, Abubakar Usman Faruk disclosed this while giving an update on the level of compliance by FCT markets with the containment protocols against Covid-19.

Faruk said the minister gave the directives during a review meeting on the Administration’s COVID 19 Pandemic Response Strategy.

“This directive which takes effect from the next market day Saturday April 25, 2020 is against the earlier approved time of 10am to 2pm.

“The Minister also directed the  decongestion of the existing markets through the establishment of  Neighbourhood Selling Points in the various districts within the Federal Capital City by Abuja Markets Management Limited”, he stated.

According to Faruk, the AMML is to liaise with the FCT Area Councils to ensure full implementation of all COVID 19 Pandemic protocols with regards to the markets across all the nooks and crannies of the territory.

While urging FCT residents to abide by all emergency regulations in respect of the Coronavirus, the minister said patronising the neighbourhood markets would help to strengthen the Administration’s response plan.

Malam Bello directed law enforcement agencies to “clamp down on residents who hide under the window of market days to flout Government directives”.

It was gathered that the concept of Neighbourhood Selling Points is aimed at taking pressure off the existing markets in the FCT through the provision of an initial 40 units -adopting either public schools or green areas where they exist- across the various districts in the Federal Capital City FCC.

The idea is to further enhance the attainment of social distancing among residents which is a key requirement for eventual winning of the battle against the virus.

In order to ensure quick set up of the Neighbourhood Selling Points therefore, the Minister further directed relevant FCTA Secretariats, Departments and Agencies to support AMML to actualize this mandate.

Meanwhile, ahead of the take-off of the Neighbourhood Selling Points, “the Minister has insteucted that all users of markets in the FCT must use face mask and also observe social distancing”.

To this end, the minister mandated the AMML boss to ensure that existing selling points for food items within the markets are decentralized immediately to achieve social distancing, even as he encouraged the markets managers to continue to sensitize clients on other hand and respiratory hygiene.