Pandemic poses concern on low-incomes livelihoods
Four months have elapsed since corona virus (COVID-19) broke out in China, Wuhan city. But the damage it inflicts is simmering unabated. So far, it has claimed tens of thousands of lives and created huge economic downslide and psychological tension which the world has never seen since WW II. When we see its economic aspect, many low-income societies around the world have been affected. It clutch grip will be sever in developing countries like Ethiopia as well.
Having realized this, the Ethiopian government has been taking swift measures to save lives of its people. States have issued restrictions to control the spread of the virus. Moreover, the government is working to ease economic burden on the people.
Tigray State which has been strictly taking preemptive measures to combat the pandemic. It has prohibited city to rural, urban to city, city to city transportation, public gathering, religious ongregation and closed cafes, bars, Khat houses and other service providing institutions. Due to this, economic challenges have cropped up on those who lead a hand-to-mouth life.
‘‘No doubt it is tough measure for people like me who depend their livelihood on doing daily activities,’’ says Mekelle resident, Kiflom Hadgu, a juice shop owner.
He adds: “Though the government has decided to save our lives, it should as well consider about our economic problems. I have a small juice shop in Mekelle. Closing it for two weeks or to a month would be devastating.’’
Tigray government has decided people to receive only 50% of their rent. But, Kiflom insists that the government should find a better solution to subsidize families who would be affected by the decree.
“Even paying 50% rent without work is harsh. How would one pay the 50% rent if one stops working? Who would one cover your daily expenditures? How could one pay salary to ones employees? The government should consider all these issues,’’ he reflects.
Like rubbing a salt on the wound of others, there are some selfish and irresponsible business people who increase price at this difficult time. For instance, Southern Zone of Tigray, Urban Development, Trade and Industry Task Force have banned 42 shops as they had been found guilty of unreasonable price increase.
Task Force Head, Ataklti Tsegay says that the government would take further measures on those who increase price using the pandemic as excuse.
“We give priority for the well-being of our people. Hence, business owners who want to get undeserved profit would be brought to justice as part of safeguarding the economic advantage of our citizens. Thus, we closed 42 business enterprises in Maychew town. We have also closed 58 Khat shops, pool houses and groceries,’’ he stressed.
Ataklti recommends other areas of the state to take strict measure so as to stabilize market through preventing such manmade inflation at this very critical time.
Similarly, states such as Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples, Harari and others have taken similar restrictions. To control the spread of COVID-19 they have banned transportation service which comes from other states. They are also working to create stabilized market atmosphere by taking measures on those who increase unreasonable price.
COVID-19 affects everyone without discrimination based on race, age and sex. Hence, the public should work hand in glove with the government to prevent this dangerous pandemic. People should heed the guidelines being issued by the World Health Organizations (WHO), Ministry of Health, Health Bureaus and other stakeholders.
The Ethiopian Herald