Large crowds of people converged at the various markets in Accra on Saturday to purchase foodstuffs and other essentials following the imposition of a two-week lockdown of various parts of Accra, Tema and Kumasi in the wake of the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).
Makola, Madina, Mallam Atta, Ashaiman, Texpo, among others, saw huge numbers of both young and old, men and women who were engaged in panic-buying, resulting in human and vehicular traffic.
The lorry stations were also not left out as many trooped to join vehicles to various destinations outside of the areas earmarked for the lockdown.
Various banking halls were packed with people waiting to make cash withdrawals, whilst others resorted to the use of Automated Machines (ATMs), albeit in long queues.
Many also queued at various gas filling stations to purchase the product before the lockdown comes into force.
At Mallam Atta, as early as 5:00am, hundreds of shoppers were already gathered at the market to get foodstuffs.
Although some complained about hikes in prices, it did little to deter them from buying in large quantities.
Akua Asamoah, told the Ghanaian Times, she came to the market earlier to avoid the crowds and purchase enough that would last the period of the lockdown.
“The traders have hiked prices of foodstuffs, but I need them, so I will buy more that will last for more than two weeks. I don’t want to come out of my house and increase my risk of contracting the virus,” she said.
A customer at GCB Bank Spintex Road branch said, following the announcement of the lockdown by the President, “I decided to come for some cash to buy foodstuffs for my family. Even if I’m to spend two hours in the queue, I have no other choice than to patiently wait,”
From Teshie-Nungua, Michael Abayateye reports that there was utmost disregard for social distancing as one of the measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, as residents massed-up at gas filing stations to fill up their cylinders.
The development also caused a huge vehicular traffic as some of the customers practically occupied parts of the main road, making it difficult for vehicles to move.
Though the prices at the pumps were not hiked due to the high demand, for owners of the gas filing stations, it was time to cash-in as they do not witness such huge numbers on regular basis.
Kofi Ansah, one of the customers at a pump near A-Life Junction said, they expected a shortage and needed to fill up for the next two weeks.
Meanwhile, the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Marketing Companies Association of Ghana in a press statement urged the public to desist from rushing to filling stations across the country to purchase gas due to the lockdown as they would not be affected by the impending lockdown.
They assured the public, “we have enough supplies; we are also open to serve you at all material times during the period.”
Samuel Opare Lartey observed that at the Neoplan, VIP and VVIP stations at the Kwame Nkrumah Interchange that there were long queues with many waiting for buses to travel out of Accra.
At about 7:30am yesterday, a large number of travellers were seen with sleeping mattresses, children and bicycles, bags of rice and gari, and empty gas cylinders.
Vivian Arthur reports from Kaneshie market that prices of goods increased exponentially following the announcement of partial lockdown.
Checks on Saturday at the market revealed that, food items, which were sold at lesser price had increased twice the existing price.
A teacher, Daniel Ansah said, “I am surprised at the sudden increase. Oats, which I bought at GH¢7.00 last week is now sold at GH¢12.00 and I am surprised. I think the government must do something about this.”
Ruth Pobi, a nurse also said “sellers are taking advantage of the crises. A tuber of yam sold at GH¢ 7.00 is now GH¢15.00 and GH¢20.00. Even a cup (olonka) of gari which was sold at GH¢8.00 is now GH¢18.00.”
In an interview with some of the sellers they explained that, the cause of the price hikes is as a result of the borders closed by the government.