Following the incessant increase in Customs exchange rate for clearance of imported items at the Nigerian seaports and Airports, and instability of foreign exchange in the country, importers in the country have started dumping Nigerian seaports for Port of Tema, Ghana; Port of Lome, Togo and Port of Cotonou, Benin Republic, LEADERSHIP gathered.
The decision to dump Nigeria ln seaports was as a result of the incessant increase in exchange rate for cargo clearance by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Also, clearing agents said importation into the country has declined by 65 per cent due to drop in business activities. According to a frontline clearing agent, Olubayo Akinlosotu, between 60 to 80 containers are dropped daily for Customs’ examination as against 200 to 250 dropped in 2023.
LEADERSHIP reports that CBN, on June 24, 2023 adjusted the exchange rate from N422.30/$1 to N589/$1 and on July 6, 2023 it was adjusted to N770.88/$1, on November 14, 2023, it was adjusted to N783.174/$1, December 7, 2023, it was adjusted to N951.941/$1, on Friday, 2nd February, 2024, exchange at N1,356.883/$1 and on Saturday, 3rd, February, 2024 was changed to N1,413.62/$1 making it twice adjustment within a day. However, confirming the development, Akinlosotu, said Importers are leaving the country in droves, saying the cargoes will now be smuggled into the country through the nation’s porous borders.
He stated that the abandonment of Nigerian ports was basically because of scarcity and hike in Customs foreign exchange rate. “If these importers divert their cargoes to neighbouring ports, we all know that 80 per cent of them will end up in the Nigerian market either through smuggling or any other means of shipping. The implication is that it is the government that will lose at the end,” he told our Correspondent.
Also speaking, the National President of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, tagged ‘importers Japa’. Amiwero argued that the floating exchange rate is responsible for the crisis the country is currently facing. He mentioned that sourcing for forex is another big problem attributing it to ‘importers’ Japa’.
“The subsidy paid on fuel by the govt. is what takes care of the common man, the hairdressers, the transport system, the farmer and all the rest. So, you remove subsidies, the price of diesel goes up and manufacturers are closing shops because they cannot run diesel and there is no constant power supply.
“For importers to move out of the country to go and look for solace is terribly disastrous and the implication is huge. That means we cannot fund our imports and so many of our things. We are crashing down completely and people are moving out. As they are moving out, they are moving their companies out of the country,” he stated.
He said a lot of people have been ravaged into poverty, some of them cannot eat and they have gone down below poverty level. “You don’t have a floating exchange rate in a country that is fragile. There must be stability so that people can consistently predict their importation and have a transparent view about what is coming. Many people are abandoning their cargoes at the port because of the exchange rate. Their duty moves from N1.2 million to N2.5 million. Where do they get the extra money from? Government should look at it, the predictability in transaction is very important,” he explained.