Nigerian exporters are at the risk of having their supply contracts cancelled by foreign buyers due to delay in shipment of cargoes.
Many exporters have complained that the delay in shipment was caused by the confusion around the Apapa port, Lagos, where dreadful gridlock in the past few months had affected smooth movement of cargoes.
“It is very challenging getting empty containers out of the port for loading of cargo as it takes up to four days for container to move from Apapa port to the warehouse and it takes another five days after loading the cargo for it to get to the port.
“My buyers are fast losing their patience and there are talks of cancelling the contracts to supply the goods,” an exporter, Austin Nwankwo, told our correspondent on Friday.
The Secretary General, National Cashew Association of Nigeria, Mr. Sotonye Anga, said the situation was made worse by Nigeria’s seeming bad image abroad.
He said, “The moment your cargo fails to arrive at its destination at the time it is expected to get there and there is a delay of one week.
“The buyers immediately start smelling a rat. This is because they are dealing with a Nigerian supplier. Some of our exporters have already had their contracts annulled because of this.”
The Chairman, Colossus Investment Limited, Mr. Tola Faseru, said foreign buyers were worried about the delay in the shipment of goods from Nigeria.
He stated, “Our buyers are very worried. The timing is unpredictable. When people give you a specific time to make shipment and you fail to do it at that specific time, it means you have defaulted on the contract; and outside Nigeria, such issues are viewed with seriousness. If we are not careful, this can close the market for Nigerian products.
“The delay in moving goods to the ports is affecting our contract obligations. In addition to that, the quality of the goods is also affected because the goods are perishable in nature. Our storage facilities are stretched because the warehouses can no longer take in more goods.”
Anga said urgent intervention from government was needed to address the situation.
“The Ministry of Power, Works and Housing should relocate from Abuja to Lagos. There is no point sitting in Abuja when the economy is collapsing,” he said.
The Director-General, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Muda Yusuf, described a situation where there was no access to the country’s major ports as a national embarrassment.
He said, “The government needs to declare an emergency situation concerning the ports. In any country, the port is the engine of the economy. A situation where all the access roads that lead to Nigeria’s major ports are blocked is nothing but a national embarrassment. This will make foreign investors lose confidence in our country.
“This is an emergency situation that requires immediate action on the part of the government. The rail lines need to be revived to facilitate movement of cargo while the road rehabilitation work in Apapa is going on.”
In April, the Dangote Group and Flour Mills Plc signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Ports Authority to rehabilitate the Apapa/Ijora end of the Apapa/Wharf access road.
The project, which will reportedly gulp N4.3bn, effectively started in May and this necessitated closing a section of the road to traffic.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Miss Hadiza Usman, disclosed during a press briefing in Lagos that the budget for the project had to be re-valued to take into account the cost of relocating underground gas pipelines and electric cables obstructing the work and preventing it from progressing as fast as it should.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, said the road rehabilitation work would take up to one year to complete.