African e-tailer, Jumia, had one of its warehouses in Lagos, Nigeria, sealed off by officials of the Lagos State Government on Wednesday.
The warehouse was forcefully shut during a raid targeted at violators of the COVID-19-containment-inspired executive order restricting movement in three Nigerian States for 14 days.
On Wednesday, April 1, officials of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency (LASEPA) and the Lagos State Safety Commission busted a number of ‘non-essential’ service outlets who were found to still be operating despite the directive.
Lagos COVID-19 Taskforce seals off, Jumia warehouse, Chinese Firm, brothel and others for non compliance with executive orders on lock down. #StaySafe #StayAtHome #COVID19#LagosAgainstCovid19 @safety_lasg @Mr_JAGs @followlasg pic.twitter.com/EdCDH95nG1
— LASEPA (@LasepaInfo) April 1, 2020
According to LASEPA, a Chinese firm and a brothel were sealed off together with a Jumia warehouse located at Surulere Industrial Road, Off Allen, Ikeja.
While it may have been a mix-up at the time, it’s still baffling that the e-commerce company was somehow lumped together with ‘non-essential’ service outlets at a time when online commerce is obviously needed more than ever.
The situation is made even more interesting by the fact that Jumia had indeed recently offered to bring its network of logistics operations to help Nigerian and African governments to distribute health supplies and other items in the fight against the pandemic.
In his Sunday address, President Muhammadu Buhari had asked for a “cessation of movement” for two weeks in Lagos, Abuja, and Ogun. However, certain essential service providers were exempted from the lockdown directive including logistics firms and suppliers of essential commodities.
Naturally, Jumia would have thought itself on the exemption list but apparently, some government officials didn’t get the memo as they proceeded to lock up the warehouse.
The warehouse only reopened several hours later when LASEPA tweeted that it had been established that Jumia can be classified as an ‘essential supplier’ as contained in the Infectious Disease Regulation signed by the Executive Governor of Lagos State, Babajide Sanwo-Olu on the 27th March 2020.
— LASEPA (@LasepaInfo) April 1, 2020
We reached out to Jumia Nigeria for comments on the matter and they confirmed that the warehouse was indeed locked up for a while but has since reopened.
“Our warehouse is reopened. Hence, we are continuing operations and we are delivering all orders to our customers. Our teams have a critical role, that is delivering essential goods and helping African communities during this challenging time,” the company told WeeTracker.
On whether the downtime experienced due to the action of the government officials would affect delivery timelines, the company said:
“As for the delivery timelines: we are doing our best to keep them, but given the situation, you might experience a small delay.”
There are concerns that the government’s message on exemptions to the lockdown hasn’t been conveyed adequately and the Jumia warehouse snafu seems like yet another case point.
In a previous article, we had revealed that one of Nigeria’s leading e-logistics startups, Kobo360, is facing a situation where up to 3,000 drivers on its platform have parked their trucks for fear of harassment from overzealous officers.
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