Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA), Malam Mohammed Bello has approved the extension of business hours for markets in the FCT.
Markets will now be opened between 8 am and 3 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
The directive which takes effect from Saturday is against the earlier approved time of 10 am to 2 pm.
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 (FCC) by Abuja Markets Management Limited.
While urging FCT residents to support the intent of the lockdown by patronizing markets in their neighbourhoods, the minister ordered the law enforcement agencies to clamp down on residents who hide under the window of market days to flout government directives.
Bello who gave the directives on Thursday during a review meeting on the Administration’s COVID-19 pandemic response strategy also urged Abuja Markets Management Limited 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 FCT.
The concept of Neighbourhood Selling Points, the minister said 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 FCT.
This will further enhance the attainment of social distancing among residents which is a key requirement for eventual winning of the battle against the dreaded virus.
In order to ensure quick set up of the Neighbourhood Selling Points, the Minister further directed relevant FCTA Secretariats, Departments and Agencies to support government to actualize the mandate.
Even ahead of the take-off of the Neighbourhood Selling Points, the Minister insisted that all users of markets in the FCT must use face mask and also observe social distancing.
To this end, he mandated the Managing Director, Abuja Markets Management Limited Abubakar Usman Faruk 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 the markets users on other hand and respiratory hygiene.