Following the huge economic losses incurred by the country in the food sector during the lockdown period, the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT) Nigeria has underscored the need to standardize products by ensuring proper packaging, labeling and classification so as curb losses.
The National Executive Director, CILT Nigeria, Mr. Paul Ndibe who made his call in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos maintained that this was the only way Nigeria could move forward that in the event of any future dislocation, it would not be as impacted as it were during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Speaking on the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown on the economy, Ndibe noted that because of the level of the economy, the style of the transaction practices and the low level of e-commerce attainment in the country, business owners would prefer to physically move and carry out their businesses than doing them electronically.
He said, “I give an example, a trader from Nnewi coming to Lagos to buy motor spare parts, would not rely on the spare parts they will send to him by pictures, even if he will make transfer by bank, he will prefer that he take the risk to come physically to inspect what he is buying before he buys because of specification problem, honesty and integrity which are still lacking in our business practices. So, what you will now find is that for him to transact any business, he will physically need to come or has somebody that he so trusted to go and do that pre-inspection on his or her behalf before buying.
“And for that reason, non-movement of people had impacted up to 25 percent of business volumes on account of the lockdown which has affected people moving from one place to the other. That is in terms of businesses. It is also the same in terms of even food supplies. People will not go and buy banana from Cross-River state because they may pair ten, fifteen, twenty to pick up a lorry and put everything and they know how they demarcate their goods or they can pull everything together, when they arrive, they start sharing. That thing will not happen if those people are not physically present in Cross-River state to decide on the pricing for the truck, to decide on the weight of the banana or the plantain they will buy, to decide on the day they will move and to even accompany the vehicle to come to Lagos before they start sharing.
“So, because of the nature of business practices in Nigeria, they are more than 40 per cent attached to physical inspection and physical presence before concluding transaction. So, for that reason, we were heavily impacted in Nigeria by the lockdown. For food packages that are standardized, they don’t have much of the problem because even the courier services are operating but for those that are not standardized, they have problem.
“The next question now is, what do we do post covid-19? So, we need to start standardizing our products, start standardizing packaging, labeling and classification. That is the only way we can move forward that in the event of any future dislocation, we will not be as impacted as we were. Think of the local farmer at Agbado that has planted maize, about the time there was a lockdown was a point of harvesting these maize. If that farmer had gone to harvest the maize, there was no outlet for him to move or sell the products because of those things I have said, for that reason, those things are wasting away.
“So, for throughout this year, if it is only the maize farmer, there is no income for him because the maize would have overgrown in the farm and he wouldn’t have been able to sell any and that is why by July, you can’t find maize on the streets of Lagos which by now people would have forgotten that this is the season.”
He however maintained that under the severe lockdown that was experienced in Nigeria, there was also a window for logistics firms to move interstate adding that beyond that, it was a public knowledge that on the international scene because the pandemic was actually affecting human beings not non-human beings, it did not affect the movement of cargo or personal effects.
“So, for very strong logistics firms that have their solid infrastructure for their movement, they were not totally inhibited from moving. So, in that line, I will not subscribe that Covid-19 has such a terrible impact on the logistics firms on the whole stretch of the full lockdown but if you are looking at passenger movement, human beings moving from one point to the other, yes, their movement have been seriously impacted by restrictions which are also understandable”, he further said.
Photo: The National Executive Director, CILT Nigeria, Mr. Paul Ndibe.
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