Stakeholders have called on the Federal Government to save Nigerian importers and freight forwarders from going bankrupt by providing palliatives for the maritime sector due to COVID-19.
Speaking with a source, the stakeholders said governments in other maritime nations are providing palliatives for the operators, including importers in the maritime sector.
They however also lamented that importation has drastically dropped to 60 per cent between November and December, 2021.
Mr Simon Azubike, an importer, said that aside COVID-19 effects, importers do not have financial resources to bring in goods from overseas due to high exchange rate, scarcity of dollars, unnecessary increase in Customs duty and other challenges in the nation’s port.
“As it stands now, most importers are going bankrupt. We borrow money from the banks to do importation.
“Don’t forget, when banks lend us money, they give us in Naira and we now look for ways to convert it to dollars because we pay in dollars when we buy goods abroad.
“Everybody knows the position of Naira and dollars in the country today. This is really affecting our businesses. The cost of shipment has gone up.
He added, “The cost of transporting a 40ft container from China to Nigeria is about $12,500.The prices of goods are going up everyday. We need palliatives because we cannot continue this way,” he added.
Meanwhile, the President of African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON), Mr. Frank Ogunojemite, said the Naira is weak, and the increment in duty has made people to reduce importation into the country because the one in circulation, the prices are too high.
According to him, people do not have purchasing power to buy and the importers do not have money to bring in containers, saying that the demand of importation has fallen tremendously.
He however said that this has brought about a reduction of shipment into the country, adding that as importation declines, freight forwarders do not have work to do any more.
Ogunojemite said there is a need for the government to look at ManCap to increase the local production for export.
“But what does the government do about trade facilitation? What are they doing to increase the indegenous company? Government needs to look at how we can increase our exports.
“Then we can earn more dollars and stabilise the depreciation of the Naira. The Naira is getting weaker and converting naira to dollar is extremely higher.