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COVID-19 :Trade Ministry establishes Emergency Centre to tackle challenges



The Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment says it has established an Emergency Operation Centre to monitor the supply of essential commodities to mitigate challenges of COVID-19 in the country.

Mr Adeniyi Adebayo, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, made this known on Monday in Abuja while briefing newsmen on ways to curtail the negative  effects of COVID-19 on manufacturing, trade and related sectors of the economy.

Adebayo noted that the centre, being housed at the ministry, would monitor real-time status of transportation and delivery of essential goods to cut down difficulties faced by manufacturers, transporters, and distributors of essential commodities nationwide.

“There has been a dedicated secretariat in place with men and women from the public and private sectors.

“They have been working round the clock to ensure that truckloads of food, drugs and other essential items get to their points of destination across the nation,” he said.

He expressed regret that distributors and manufacturers still had restricted movement due to the enforcement of lockdown by the police and other security agencies.

Adebayo identified the restriction as one critical constraint encountered by the Ministry while working to comply with the directive of the president.

President Muhammadu Buhari, on March 29, in a national broadcast announced measures to curb the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in the country.

The president announced total restriction of movement in the FCT, Lagos and Ogun States, including measures to enforce social distancing and other preventive measures aimed at curbing the pandemic.

Consequently, Adebayo said the president directed the ministry to work with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Nigerian Association of Chamber of Commerce Industry Mines and Agriculture (NACCIMA),  National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) and other stakeholders.

This, he said, was to guarantee that the production of essential items like food, medical and pharmaceutical products continued unhindered.

“As a result of the aforementioned, we have taken several proactive steps in line with president’s specific directive, in the service of Nigerian people,” he said.

He recalled that on March 21, the ministry also set up a committee on the Sustainable Production and Delivery of Essential Commodities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

He thanked the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, for his cooperation in ensuring that all legitimate requests from the secretariat that it set up were promptly cleared.

“What this means is that the raw material needs of our manufacturers are being met; and recognised road transporters of essential goods are able to transport goods.

“This synergy between our law enforcement agencies, our essential manufacturers and producers and the ministry, has allowed us to be able to meet critical demands at this time,” Adebayo  said.

He  thanked the Minister of Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, for availing the ministry the use of a number of aircraft to facilitate the movement of essential products and personnel across the nation.

“Furthermore, we have been engaging the Ministry of Health, National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and National Centre for Dicease Control (NCDC) to augment the list of essential goods and services.

“We are working with SON and NAFDAC to ensure the acceleration of the issuance of Certificates of Standards of essential items – without sacrificing the quality of these items.

“Such items include hand sanitisers, coveralls for our medical workers, face masks, needles,  goggles,  gloves, sodium hypo chloride and digital thermometers,” he noted.

The minister said the ministry was also engaging indigenous car manufacturers to prepare themselves to tweak their operations to begin the manufacture of ‘Made in Nigeria’ Ventilators – a critical medical equipment in the fight against the virus.

With the support of the NCDC, he said the ministry  had also embarked on the training of emergency COVID-19 volunteers, who have the requisite skills to handle emergencies in the workplace.

Accordingly, he said, the ministry will inaugurate a postCOVID-19 Committee to  address some of the challenges.

Edited By: Vivian Ihechu/Ali Baba-Inuwa