MANY ports in Nigeria are currently deserted due to the Forex crisis which has made importation business very expensive, findings by  Saturday Tribune have revealed.

This is even as Customs brokers and other port users have threatened to paralyse all port activities over the frequent upward adjustment of the exchange rate for cargo clearance.

Speaking with Saturday Tribune, the National President of Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Mr Frank Ogunojemite, advised freight forwarders to join forces with civil society groups, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and trade unions and redeem the masses from the current economic situation.

The APFFLON National President berated the Ministry of Finance and the CBN for losing control of the naira, which has warranted its free fall.

He regretted the level of hardship being experienced by Nigerians, saying that the continued upward revision of Customs duty exchange rate would continue to hit harder on the masses who are the end users.

Ogunojemite said: “Customs has no hand in the continued increase in tariff, it should be blamed on the CBN and the Federal Ministry of Finance.

“What we are witnessing today is as a result of sheer incompetence on the side of those managing our economy. Businesses are dying, manufacturers are shutting down. The ports are almost deserted because freight forwarders have no jobs any more.”

Also speaking, a frontline clearing agent, Mr Chukwudi Onofile, said that CBN is running Nigerian economy like a Banana Republic, saying the ungodly hike in import duty for clearance of cargo is killing import business.

“I told you last week that our importers are now leaving our ports. Why did they have to leave if they have good exchange rate to do business here? The implication is that we will lose so many jobs as clearing agents and the economy will also lose while the neigbouring economy will be booming. The jobs and the money that is supposed to come to us will go to them and that is the truth.

“Go to Tin-Can and PTML ports, you will see that there are less activities. Many of us are just sitting idle and sleeping in our various offices because there is no job to do. It is high time we embarked on peaceful protests.

“We are not living in Banana Republic and our peaceful protests will paralyse economic activities across all the ports in the country, if the government fails to do something. We cannot continue like this. Things are hard for everybody,” he lamented.

Also speaking, the president of the National Council of Managing Director of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero, said a lot of people have been pushed into poverty.

“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 ports because when you trigger it immediately, you have just little to bring in cargo and when you look at the exchange rate, it moves from 1.2 to 2.5, where do you get the extra? The government should look at it, the predictability in the transaction is very important,” he explained.

Another agent and former National President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight forwarders (NAGAFF), Mr Eugene Nweke, revealed that many importers are currently on the run due to their inability to meet up with their Chinese creditors over their inability to raise funds to clear their consignments following the unpredictable nature of Nigeria’s foreign exchange regime.

“Another problem our unpredictable exchange rate has caused is that it has made our importers lack integrity in the face of their foreign partners.

“Many of these imports were ordered on credit, but with an unstable exchange rate, many importers have struggled to clear these cargoes, leading to many of them being chased for money by these Chinese firms,” Nweke explained

Checks by Saturday Tribune revealed that the cost of clearing vehicles from Apapa Port has almost quadrupled.

To clear a 2019 Toyota RAV4 costs N9,570,000. For a 2004 or 2014  Toyota RAV4, it costs N4,050,000. For the 2012 Toyota Tundra, it cost N2.3 million.

For a 2005 or 2015 Toyota Camry, it costs N3,450,000 while for a 2008 or 2014 Honda Accord costs N3,750,000.

“A 2010 Mercedes Benz C300 cost N6.9M and a 2005 or 2014 Toyota Corolla cost N3M. A 2010 Toyota Tacoma cost N1.9M while 2010 Mazda CX-7 cost N4.2M

Also, a 2005 or 2014 Highlander costs N5.3M while a 2016 Highlander costs N7,150,000. For a 2007 or 2013 Avalon, it costs N5.5M to clear while a 2008 Lexus ES350 costs N6,050,000.

Also, for the 2009 Lexus RX 350, it costs N6.7 million to clear.

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