Saturday, 21 March 2020

Opinion: Supermarket chains are not just noticing empty shelves


Affected in some ways
I guess if I did answer a phone call any time soon, one question that would feature would be about how I am affected by the Coronavirus. Now, if someone from Yorubaland did call, I would get a greeting related to the event, the circumstance, the achievement, or my feelings.
But then, what is Coronavirus to me? It is quiet and I have made three phone calls with only the option to leave a voice mail. Whilst I am happy to sit at home alone for extended periods of time, I have decidedly pulled up the middle Venetian blind in my living room to let in natural light. This afternoon, the sun reflected off a windowpane across the road into my face, it must have been a glorious day.
The self-enforced self-isolation is fine if it is my decision, but when it is advised from an external situation, the satisfaction with being a hermit is challenged by a feeling of being imprisoned. I can handle it.
Everything is closed
There was one final notice I was expecting to see because my apartment complex which is a village of 6 apartment blocks has a games area, a gym, and a swimming pool. The leisure centre has been closed until further notice. It should not bother me because I have hardly visited the gym, but the thought that I can’t, makes it feel restricted.
Turning on my television, I am regaled with the news of empty shelves in supermarkets and the argumentum ad passions deployed regarding the elderly and NHS staff unable to get essentials from the shops. I do honestly sympathise with these people, but I am not surprised that people are stockpiling beyond what they need.
Government generated anxiety
The fact is people are concerned and they are afraid, the feeble assurances given by the government does not engender any confidence that essential goods would always be available. The communication strategy of the government has been muddled at best as they have flown kites about possible lockdowns or restrictions to movement, the natural reaction of the public would be to adversely react. It is, selfish and inconsiderate behaviour, not in any way unexpected.
The blame for this lies majorly with the messages of the leadership. If you cannot inspire confidence or persuade people of the greater good especially after the division that has dogged our society for the past few years no appeal to good nature would suddenly make the selfless out of the buffeted by uncertainty, worry and concern.
Blame supermarket lethargy
Supermarkets would just have to rejig their logistics to fulfil inventories in these trying times, supply chains would also have to become more agile and responsive to changing demands. The supermarkets cannot now say they are unaware that they are running out of bread, toilet paper, pasta, or hand sanitiser. They might not have been able to anticipate the run on goods, but they could have done more to address the shortages once it became obvious.
That in these highly automated logistics environments, they have not been able to scale up and adapt to changes in demand or adjust their supply chains suggests there are fundamental flaws in the system that the Coronavirus pandemic has exposed. Also, assurances from the supermarkets have to be met with commensurate action; stock the shelves.
Meanwhile, those who thrived on gaining political power with lies, proffering easy answers to complex questions have now been met with an intricate conundrum that hyperbole allows us to suggest has not been encountered before; the inept are now in government.
In my case, I would just go for a walk around the block and maybe sit in the gated village garden to meditate. This will pass.


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