Bonded terminal operators blame forex for business downturn

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Bonded terminal operators blame forex for business downturn

CHIGOZIE AMADI

The country’s foreign exchange crisis, hike in freight rate, and economic downturn have led to a 70 per cent drop in activities at bonded terminals, the General Secretary of the Association of Bonded Terminal Operators of Nigeria, Haruna Omolajomo has disclosed.

Omolajomo, who spoke exclusively with The PUNCH in Lagos on Tuesday, said the freight rate had jumped from $1,500 to about $6,000.

“Because of the forex crisis, importation and activities have dropped drastically. Even the freight rate has also increased. Before now, freight used to be $1,500 but it has gone up to about $6,000 and when you now come to Nigeria, the exchange rate for cargo clearance has gone up. A lot of people do not want to go into importation now,” he noted.

Haruna, who is also the chief executive officer of Harsecom Logistics Limited, revealed activities were not up to 20 per cent.

“The drop in operation can’t be qualified, but I can tell you that no bonded terminal operates above 20 per cent. Because of this economic crutch and the forex, operations at the bonded terminal have dropped by 65-70 per cent,” he said.

According to him, the cost of clearing containers, the economic crunch, and the freight rate have led to the drop.

The ABTON scribe urged the government to address some of those challenges.

“The government should look at what to do to address these challenges. The government needs to stabilise the naira and they should also try as much as possible to encourage export. Because if we have more exports, it will generate more money for the government. The government should also look at the issue of multiple taxation; it is killing,” Haruna averred.

He also stressed the need for a maritime bank.

“I would also recommend that there should be a maritime bank, where customers and clearing agents can go to get financial assistance

“Some containers will come in and the agents may not have money to clear it and it will cause a financial burden on them. A maritime bank is long overdue,” he stated.