The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) is currently suffering untold hardship in its operation at the Apapa ports, following shortage of tools and equipment to carry out inspection of containers at the port.
Since inception of the agency’s predicament, its inspection target has drastically reduced from 200 containers per day to about 60 containers per day, resulting in the in the payment of avoidable demurrage and unnecessary delay in manufacturing operations.
Babatunde Odunayo, Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), confirmed the situation in his address at association’s 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos on November 12, with the theme: “‘The Nigerian Manufacturing Sector: What Future for Capacity Utilization and Growth under a New Economic Situation?”
Odunayo lamented that raw materials, plant and machinery, and spare parts are not released efficiently by Customs, due to lack of inspection facilities at the ports.
It has been observed recently that trailers usually queue up on port roads, which eventually leads to loss of manhours.
Odunayo, who stated that the situation contributes to the cost of doing business in Nigeria, also noted that, already the deplorable state of roads within Lagos metropolis and the consequent traffic gridlock at the Tin-Can Island and Apapa Ports have led to closure of and relocation of some manufacturing companies from Apapa to other neighbouring states.
He said that the Lagos State Government’s rail transportation project appears to have stalled, stressing the need for the State Government to fast-track the completion of the proposed Trailer Pack at Tin Can Inland.
The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had earlier assured that the road, when completed, would promote an orderly and traffic-free conduct of business in that area.
The MAN chairman was optimistic that the NCS will improve on the facilities and processes at the ports in order to achieve the 48-hour clearing mandate, while also improving on the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) procedures in order to ensure that PAAR-related challenges such as complaints arising from Free on Board (FOB) values are minimized.
Odunayo, while speaking at the association’s AGM, said this year’s edition of the event was aimed at engaging with some established economists and technocrats in further understanding the strategies required to rescue the manufacturing sector from imminent danger in the prevailing macro-economic and currency controls environment.
He noted, for instance, that the controversial exclusion of 41 items from the official foreign exchange and the shortage of forex to finance imports is threatening operators in the manufacturer sector.
“This unfavourable business environment poses serious threats to the survival of the manufacturing sector,” he said.
“The Central Bank of Nigeria may have stampeded itself into the removal of the 41 items from the official forex window if you consider that the list includes essential raw material inputs for manufacturing, which do not have local substitutes,” the MAN leader said.