Port users, especially importers, exporters and freight forwarders, have given reasons why there are low business activities in the nation’s seaports.
The lull in business activities is in sharp contrast to the high volume of trade associated with Yuletide with more importation of goods. These high volumes of cargoes are often carried out by importers who often take advantage of high sales associated with the Christmas season to do brisk business.
However, those who spoke to THISDAY said there is a lull in business activities in the nation’s seaports, airports and international borders in spite of the fact that the Yuletide is a few days away.
A Lagos-based importer who did not want his name in print attributed the lull in the ports to the fiscal policies of the Federal Government since the beginning of the year. According to the importer, who is known for the importation of food items, especially rice, these fiscal policies have hindered many business as they could barely meet their set goals.
Lending credence to the importers’ position, a veteran licensed customs agent, Prince Olusegun Ologbese, put the blame on the lull business in the ports on the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s mop up operation which has resulted in the inability of importers to get loans at competitive interest rates to import goods into the country.
Ologbese, who is also the Managing Director of Ogbese International Limited, told THISDAY that despite the fact that the period is often associated with brisk business, this has not been the case this year. He called on the government to do something tangible immediately to reverse the fortunes of the nation’s seaports, airports and international borders.
Ologbese said the worrisome situation would have adverse effect on not only the economy of the nation but also on the citizens in the weeks ahead.
“Already, this has started manifesting in so many aspects of the nation. The CBN regulating policy is actually a major contributing factor because the door of lending to small scale business as well as large scale business as well as major entrepreneurs has been closed”, he said.
He stated that even the Bureau de Change, which the importers run to for foreign exchange, is no more in business.
“It has become problem for the importers to get money to pay their foreign manufacturers who at times send goods to them on credit. Terminal operators and service providers are not helping the matter because they do not drop containers on demand. They give five to six days and they still charge the importer/agent for demurrage which they did not cause and it ought not to be so”, he said.
He alleged that many of the bonded terminals have been thrown out of business because the concessionaires who took over the nation’s seaports in the wake of the port reforms decline to stem containers to them despite repeated assurances to do so in the past.