MANLack of inspection tools and equipment in Apapa ports has led to a reduction in the inspection target of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) from 200 containers per day to about 60 containers per day.

This has resulted in the payment of avoidable demurrage and unnecessary delay in manufacturing operations, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has said.

The Chairman of MAN, Apapa branch, Babatunde Odunayo, in his address at its 44th Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Lagos on November 12, spoke on the theme. At the AGM: ‘The Nigerian Manufacturing Sector: What Future for Capacity Utilization and Growth under a New Economic Situation?”

Odunayo said because of lack of inspection facilities at the ports, raw materials, plant and machinery, and spare parts are not released efficiently by Customs.

“Presently, trailers also queue up on port roads leading to loss of manhours and contribute to the cost of doing business in Nigeria,” Odunayo lamented, adding 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.

While noting that the Lagos State Government’s rail transportation project appears to have stalled, Odunayo calling on the State Government to fast-track the completion of the proposed Trailer Pack at Tin Can Inland, which, when completed, would promote an orderly and traffic-free conduct of business in that area.

The MAN chief also expressed hope 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.

This year’s AGM, according to Odunayo, 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.

According to Odunayo, “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.”

By Pita Ochai

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