by Tutu Akinlabi
The news of a proposed ban on sale of drugs in open markets to be enforced from next year has not gone down well with traders in Onitsha, Anambra State.
The traders took to the streets of the bustling town yesterday to protest the proposed ban. According to reports, a crowd of at least 10,000 traders from the Bridge-Head Drug Market, Onitsha took over the Onitsha-Enugu Expressway
The protesters, who were reportedly chanting anti-Federal Government songs, also carried placards with inscriptions such as “South-East governors help us; If drug market is closed, it will lead to more crime; Over 10,000 eke-out their livelihood from drug market and Action Governor Peter Obi, help us,” among others.
Speaking on behalf of the traders, the Caretaker Committee Chairman of Onitsha Patent and Proprietary Medicine Dealers Union (OPPMDU), Mr. Kenneth Nwosu said the planned policy of government would affect the livelihood of over 10, 000 drug traders, their families and extended family members.
Nwosu appealed to government to look at the economic implication of the policy especially for thousands of youths who were learning drug trading in Anambra and other states.
“We are appealing to the South-East governors through the South-East Governors’ Forum to call on the Federal Government to rescind its decision in the interest of security and economic well-being of the South-East and the country. Moreover, we have over 5,000 shops at this Bridge-Head Drug Market and over 10,000 traders doing business here. What happens to them and their direct dependents and extended family members?
“The proposed complex the government wants to use for its State and Mega Drug Distribution Centres (SMDDCs) in Onitsha only have 124 shops. We all know that there is a dearth of pharmacists to effectively cover these shops and administer drugs to our people,’’ he said.