Manufacturers have warned that unless there are improvements in port infrastructure this year, it could lay off many workers from their jobs due to challenges in clearing imported raw material meant for production.
They revealed that large consignments of raw materials that were imported into the country are currently stuck at the port with many of their production lines lying idle.
Group Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, May & Baker Nigeria Plc, Nnamdi Okafor, in an interview with New Telegraph in Lagos, revealed that the traffic congestion within the Lagos ports was a concern for every manufacturer.
He said that improved port infrastructure was critical, saying that manufacturers would have no choice than to relieve workers manning production lines of their duties if nothing is done.
Okafor explained that challenges bordering on delay in import/export processes, heavy human and vehicular congestion to and within the ports, difficulty in gaining access to the ports due to bad roads and security concerns were stalling production capacity in the manufacturing sector.
Speaking further, the CEO noted that the challenge to had led some firms to incur huge demurrage and increased transport costs on cleared goods.
He said that manufacturers were worried over the current port situation especially the continued delay in shipment of goods belonging to them.
According to him, the port congestion situation is appalling and counter-productive, adding that it was affecting local production and capacity utilisation in the country presently.
“The major challenge we are facing right now has to do with poor port infrastructure at the ports because many firms cannot clear their consignments of raw materials shipped into the country for production and this has resulted to many production lines currently lying idle.
“I can tell you that if there are no improvement at the ports in terms of infrastructure to enable us clear our goods, we will have to lay-off workers that are manning the idle production lines in the New Year,” Okafor stated.
Speaking on forex availability, he said that availability of liquidity on the foreign currency side has brought about improvement in importation of raw materials for production locally.
“Certainly, there is no doubt that a number of areas have improved in the economy. First is the availability of liquidity on the foreign currency side, especially for manufacturers, who import raw materials and spare parts for our plants.
“We have seen some level of stability both in terms of the expected range of price versus the volatility we have seen in the currency before.
“That is good because it improves predictability, ability to plan and even when costs are higher it helps such that we know what the price is, which is critical,” Okafor noted