Business and transport owners in FUNAAB have lamented low patronage as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. Sharing his experience, Mr. Adeniyi Afolayan, a bus driver plying the University road stated that the current situation had affected every facet of his transport business, stressing that the directive by the Federal Government for drivers not to carry more than two passengers on a seat had affected him and other drivers drastically. He said that the number of passengers being carried has reduced when compared to what prevailed before the pandemic, adding that his daily income was nothing when compared to what he earned before the lockdown began.
“Before now, I make an average of N4,000 to N5,000 daily, but these days, it is hard to make enough money. This morning now, I have only earned N1,100 and I have already spent N1,000 on fuel. I just decided to come out today so that I do not stay idle at home. Meanwhile, now we are only allowed to carry two passengers per seat while some of our passengers have been complaining that they cannot pay the new transport fare, which is why bus drivers have decided to stick to the normal fare of N100 per passenger”, he stated.
Corroborating him, Mr. Abiodun Okewole, another cab driver stated that he had been struggling to feed, stressing that the pandemic gave him a terrible experience with little or no money to spend. He added that despite the fact that the ban on movement had been lifted, he was still unable to make as much profit as he should, noting that cab drivers still have fewer passengers going in and out of the campus on a daily basis. He revealed that with the increase in transport fare from N50 to N100, cab drivers are still made to collect N50 from passengers who cannot pay the new fare.
Miss. Sope Makinde-Taylor, a business owner disclosed that sales and the rate of turnover had been very poor, noting that the pandemic had made them to incur great loss on their businesses. She added that while most of their goods were disposed-off because they had expired, some drinks were given out as gifts as they were nearing their expiry dates. She stated further that on free lockdown days, they still could not make enough sales due to lack of electricity, adding that it was impossible for them to purchase more goods because they were scared of the likely outcome. She said that since the lockdown was relaxed, they have sold out more. She expressed her optimism for more sales once the pandemic was over because patronage would normalise as soon as students resume.
Miss Makinde-Taylor lauded FUNAAB for complying with the Federal Government instructions of using face masks and maintaining social distancing, stressing that security personnel at the University main entrance always ensure that everyone coming into the campus used their face masks. In his view, Mr. Adeleke Adelekun of Jather Royal Ventures attributed the poor sales to the ripple effects of COVID-19, saying that the pandemic had affected his daily income drastically. He revealed that he had not been able to make any profit, stating that he and his family members depended on the grace of God to survive. He, however, noticed an improvement in sales since he resumed in his shop, adding that he had been coming to work with the hope of making more sales and to avoid disappointing his customers. According to him, “We just come so that some of our very committed customers would not be disappointed. Actually, it still does not make up for what we are expecting to be able to continue with the business”. While hoping that things would improve once the economy normalises, Mr. Adelekun disclosed that he would opt for a loan facility to stock his shop.
Mrs. Omobola Fayomi, who is a food seller, said due to the pandemic, there had been no money in circulation, stressing that the pandemic had greatly affected the consumption pattern of her customers. She lamented low patronage, stressing that with the lifting of ban on people’s movement, she had yet to make enough sales. She said the pandemic had created fear in people, adding that those who flout the social distancing order were risking their lives and increasing the level of infection in the quest to earn a living. Similarly, Alhaja Ayo Egberongbe of Toluwani Food Canteen disclosed that the pandemic had made it impossible for them to have a clear sense of direction, stressing that though she had recorded high patronage since she resumed but the early closing hours of offices had also contributed to low sales. She called on the Federal Government to open schools to enable students resume for her to make more sales and profit.