A former Chairman, Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Tincan 2, Lillypond, Mr. Olufemi Abiodun Olabanji has decried the losses incurred by the Nigerian exporters occasioned by the gridlock in Apapa and delays in securing bookings for export.
Olabanji who expressed his frustration in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos recently, observed that export goods supposed to have unhindered access to the port.
“Sometimes, we bring in export, before we can access the port, the booking has expired, some of the items in the container like food items will spoil and we have to return them back to the owners because of the delay”, he said.
He, however, pointed out that those who control traffic on the roads were doing their best as according to him, “some people will bring their export and park them on them roads rather than taking them to the port.”
“Some exporters whose bookings are not ready bring their export goods to Apapa. I know that they are trying because if you look at their own side, you know that we; the transporters and the freight forwarders cause much of the problems because when you take your container to where you load your consignment, with the new policy, it will take you almost a week and some days before you can get your documentations if you are able to make payment and upload your documents to customs and inspection agents.
“So, when all this things are being done and you have gotten your good to go, you can bring in your container but some people will do all those things because the transporter is in a haste, he will just drive the container and come and park in Apapa here without the documents being ready and used them to block the road. So, you can’t blame those people too but I am begging government to look into this export because if the export is flowing, there will be foreign exchange for the country.
“If only they can adopt the measure they were using before, maybe on Saturdays and Sundays, they will take export and check documents, if your documents are not properly done, you cannot pass the gate. They were doing it before but they suddenly stopped it. They should look for people who will do these things right because right now, we are not finding it easy at all”, he added.
While applauding the Apapa command of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), for facilitating export of goods worth N272.3 billion in the first half of 2021, he added that the amount declared would have been higher than that if all bottlenecks to export were identified and removed.
His words, “If they were able to declare such, I wouldn’t say they have not tried, but the amount would have been higher than what was declared. I am telling you, most of the consignments are damaged especially goods coming from the north. Why people don’t know what is happening is because most of the people controlling traffic on the road don’t know what export is, they don’t know the loss incurred by the people exporting those goods, because if they do, they would have granted unhindered access to them.”
He therefore called on the federal government to look into the issues surrounding export in the country adding that “people are having a lot of goods to export but they don’t have access to the port.”
“How can you load export goods in a container and it takes you almost one month to access the port? Even the people expecting to receive the export over there, sometimes are discouraged. So, if government can sit down and review the process, they came up with Eto, they can come up with measures that will help our export business because most of us have entered serious debt. Some of us borrowed money to buy something to send abroad and two to three months, it has not gotten there and by the time it gets there, the contract has elapsed”, he further said.