Yuletide: Fun seekers lament as govt clears Abuja recreational spots over COVID-19 upsurge

By Gbenga Omokhunu, Abuja

Despite the increase in number of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), many residents still went all out to catch fun in some recreational centers.

It would be recalled that the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) had earlier this week shut down recreational spots to contain the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the development, FCTA on Friday cleared some of the parks of fun seekers who had trooped into them as part of the Christmas celebrations.

Some of the parks where fun seekers were sent out by the FCT Ministerial Enforcement Task team on COVID-19 Restrictions include the popular Millennium Park, Jabi Lake, Unity Fountain and Magic Land.

Although the gates at the Jabi Lake were closed, some anxious fun seekers made their way into the park through some porous entry points.

Upon arrival at the Lake, many of the violators took to their heels for fear of being arrested, but the Taskforce had to call them to sensitise them on the need to adhere to the safety regulations.

Head, Media and Enlightenment of the taskforce, Comrade Ikharo Attah who addressed the fun seekers noted that: “this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic seems tough and we cannot allow people to gather in crowds contrary to the directives of government.”

“We know you all want to enjoy Christmas but you can do it at home. We plead for your understanding on this matter. We don’t want to hurt anybody, but we have a duty to save residents from contracting the virus”, he stated.

Addressing journalists after shutting down the Magic Land park by the Abuja city gate, Attah expressed sympathies with the residents but said there would be more celebrations in the future if they abide by the safety protocol.

He said; “We are truly pained doing this on this day but we have the responsibility to save lives and protect FCT residents from catching COVID-19. We see in large numbers, children who have come to these recreation centres to have the best of Christmas. They look obviously unhappy and we are feeling their pains and disappointment. There will be many Christmas, but please, let us not for this Christmas ruin many more to come”.

One of the fun seekers who simply identified himself as Tolu our correspondent that, though: “it is not safe to be among people, but I need to satisfy myself.

“I came all the way from Kuje to this place to have fun. I cannot stay at home. I am a public servant, and sincerely I am tired of this COVID-19 problem”.

Another fun seeker, who gave his name as John said though he was aware of the restriction, he had to find his way to a place where he could relax and get rid of boredom.

“This Magic Land is exciting, I have missed my friends; and because we do not reside in the same place, we need to have a rallying point to meet and have fun, that is why we are here”.

Inspite of the social distancing advice, the people were seen mingling with each other, drinking and eating together.

It was also observed that there were few vehicles around the parks and joints visited; and further investigation revealed that it was an intentional act in order not to attract the attention of security agents.

Some of the operators of the spots who spoke with The Nation lamented that closure has affected their business, as many people no longer patronise their joints.

Major roads in the capital city were deserted.

A motorist, Mr. Samuel Oni, told our correspondent that a lot needs to be done to save that situation.

Oni called on government to ensure that measures to curb the spread of the virus were strictly enforced, following the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s warning.

He advised government to take the issue of citizens’ welfare and security serious in order to win the fight against the dreaded COVID-19.

He suggested that the relevant authorities stepped up efforts in public enlightenment at the community level, adding that if not nipped in the bud, the situation may get out of hand.


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