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Freight Forwarders lament tough port environment as disincentive for business in 2021



Segun Oladipupo

Freight forwarders have lamented that the outgoing year 2021 is a chaotic one in the maritime Industry, especially for importers and their agents as access to dollars was hampered by government policies on foreign exchange.

The agents added that the policies led to 50 percent reduction in imported items to the country within the year.

In a chat with our correspondent on Tuesday in Lagos, the President Advocacy for Maritime Development Association (AMDA), Segun Alabi said that by December period of 2020, the ports were filled with imported goods.

Alabi also lamented the gap in information sharing between the regulators and freight forwarders

He noted  that the gap is responsible for the freight forwarders’ inability to catch up with trends in the industry.

According to him, importers could not source for dollars from the banks because it is scarce but has to source from black markets where the rates are higher.

He maintained that the scarcity of dollars and high rate inform why some importers refuse to import goods into the Nigerian market.

His words, “The business environment in the outgoing year has been very chaotic, even to source for foreign exchange for importers despite the rise in rate is a problem.

“And if importers cannot source for dollars, how can they import their goods? Come to APMT, by this time last year, import was coming in left, right and centre but now, go to Apapa and Tincan, the job now is skeletal, transporters have to cut down their rates

“The cause of government policy as regards access to foreign exchange, it has hurt  a lot of imports, that is the basic thing.

On plans of his group for the first quarter of 2022, he said that the group would organise a training for freight forwarders to fill the gap.

“There is a serious information gap between the regulators and the freight forwarders. That is my personal observation and I am trying to engage those in authority like customs, NIMASA, NPA, CRFFNand the Nigerian Shippers’ Council.

“We have visited zonal office of customs, we have been to all of these other agencies, there is serious information gap that we noticed and one of the things we are trying to do from our own desk, to try and bridge that information gap

“That is why we are planning a public lecture for freight forwarders where we are going to be inviting individuals from the maritime industry who would be giving us information and their plans and what they are doing.

“We are going to bring in some customs officers that will be talking about compliance, that will be talking about the new trends, giving us information on how to do our jobs better.

“We want to use that platform to update ourselves in the trade as the system upgrades,” he submitted.

© 2021, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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