As South Africa goes into lockdown from tomorrow (March 21 to April 16), observations in South Africa’s townships and informal settlements reveal that lockdown may not be the perfect solution to curb the spread of Covid-19.
Michael Adekunle Charles, Head of Country Cluster for Southern Africa International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said in a radio interview in South Africa yesterday that people in the townships are not observing the social distance rule.
He was speaking as part of the organisations on ground to curb the spread of coronavirus in Bloemfontein, Free State in South Africa.
Though Charles did not link the non-adherence of social distancing to spread of the coronavirus but observations reveal that when people are locked down, they are much more likely to congregate and fraternise closely.
At Diepsloot, an informal settlement in northern Johannesburg where about 300,000 people cluster without breathing space, social distancing is a taboo.
Normally, social distancing is almost impracticable in places like this because of the close proximities of shanty houses, coupled with the fact that about six people live in a space for a standard room.
Other than that, the shanty houses are erected closely to one another.
Simon Baloyi, a Diepsloot resident says: “People can’t just sit for 21 days doing nothing. Those who have money will drink. We will play music and jolly (revel)”.
Similar trend is likely to play out in township as many people say they will be bored to death to be inactive and not able to move freely for 21 days.
However, the story may be different in South African suburbs where people live in town houses, apartments and stand alone houses, having enough spaces to play with.
Moreso, campaigns for precautions are taken more seriously in the urban areas than in informal settlements and townships as the latter have lesser informed people.
Similar fate may befall Nigeria if the nation goes into a lockdown. Lagos, for example has a population of approximately 20 million people who live on a land
of about 1,171.28 km sq (452.23 square miles), out of which about more a quarter is water (lagoon and creeks).
Observing social distancing in Lagos is like an ant attempting to pull down an aeroplane.
As the lockdown begins tomorrow in South Africa by midnight, all authorities must be vigilant of the prevailing dynamics therein and adjust rules and instructions accordingly.