Members of the Ondo State Committee on COVID-19 and the security agents manning the state borders traded words over bribery allegations against the policemen on Sunday.
The Committee on COVID-19 alleged the security operatives of collecting money from commercial drivers to allow them into the state, despite restrictions order by the state government.
The State government had ordered all its border to be closed while medical personnel were stationed at each point to screen designated persons allowed into the state.
Only trucks conveying foodstuff and petroleum products were to be allowed into the state through the borders with the official permit from the Inspector General Police.
However, the security operatives denied the allegations when confronted by the Senior Special Assistant to Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu on Special Duties, Doyin Odebowale
There was shouting order between Odebowale and the security agents alleging that the activities had been frustrating the efforts of the Ondo State Government to stop COVID-19 from spreading to the state.
According to him, “You people are supposed to turn back any unauthorised vehicles but you allow them to pass through. You are corrupt. You are not doing your work.”
But the Police team fired back, “We don’t collect money from anybody and no vehicle has passed through this place. My men are doing their work accordingly.”
Head of the medical team at the borders, Dr. Faganyu Adedayo, said over 120 passengers have been screened and those found to be having high temperatures were flagged down and referred to the State Epidemiologist and Primary Health Care for further testing.
“We are screening people entering the state. Our security personnel are getting those people passing an alternative route to get here and get tested.”
At Owena, the border town of Ondo and Osun States, Tribune Online noticed that many vehicles were parked after being refused entry into the state.
Some trucks that were allowed in from the Osun border were found to be conveying items other than food or petroleum product including commercial bus conveying passengers from Ibadan.
Passengers in commercial buses were trapped at the Ondo end of the border while our correspondent noticed some passengers using okada to pass through an alternative route which had been abandoned for a long time
Some commercial drivers, however, lamented the continued closure of the border. They said they used to spend about four hours on the spot before being allowed to go.
One of the drivers, Mahmud Karim, who was stranded at the Owode Owena border said hunger would not make him contract coronavirus.
“I am going to Osun State. Corona Virus is a sickness we only hear about and have not seen it. We poor people are suffering. I ply between Ondo-Osun-Ibadan.
“They should allow us find daily bread to eat. I have spent three hours here. Since February 15, I have been at home. It is just today I came out to work and now I am trapped here.
“It is everyday drivers are trapped here. I am not afraid of coronavirus. Hunger will not make coronavirus near me.”
Another driver, Aminu Okuola, said, “I have spent two hours. We were not allowed into Osun. All my passengers have left with Okada. I carried three passengers per seat. I am appealing that we need money to buy food.
“The passengers will use Okada to cross old bridge to either Osun or Ondo State.”
It will be recalled that a staff of the Murtala Mohammed Airport that tested positive for COVID-19 in the state on Friday had made the state government toughen its stance on border closure.
Chairman of the Committee and Ondo State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro, said the state is doing everything to stop the spread of the pandemic. He said more efforts would be put on place to tighten the borders.
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