19 February 2019

Nigeria: Budget Delay, Election Uncertainty Slow Down Imports

Importation of goods into the country has failed to pick up seven weeks into the new year, LEADERSHIP investigation has shown.

The low import activity, according to investigation, resulted from uncertainty over the 2019 general elections and the non-passage of the 2019 budget by the National Assembly.

A visit to one of the container terminals in Apapa, Lagos, yesterday showed empty berths and low operational activities.

At present, the Lagos Port Complex, famously known as Apapa Port, has five private terminals with expert management and personnel that have both local and international experience in port operations.

The Terminal Operators are: AP Moller Terminal Ltd (APMT), ENL Consortium Ltd (ENL), Apapa Bulk Terminal Ltd. (ABTL), Greenview Development Nigeria Ltd (GNDL) and Lilypond Inland Container Terminal.

In addition to eight jetties, the port also has two logistics bases - Eko Support Services Ltd and Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL).

According to the daily shipping chart made available to LEADERSHIP, only MV JPO Atair, a container vessel which berthed on February 10, is presently at berth while about seven container vessels are still being expected at the Lagos port.

Going by the details, MV Cuckoo Hunter was expected on Thursday February 14, at the largest container terminal, APM Terminal Apapa while another container vessel, MV Comrad Schuile, was expected on the same day at Eko support terminal.

Also, MV Seapan Lingue is expected to berth at APM Terminal today, February 19, while CC Topax will berth at same terminal on Thursday February 21. MV Kota Sempena, MV Kota Lagu and MV Kota Makmur are expected on February 16, 23 and March 2 respectively.

Meanwhile, a manager in one of the container terminals who craved anonymity confirmed to LEADERSHIP that activities had gone down and importers were taking time to import because of the general election.

According to the authoritative source, companies who used to import huge container loads of raw materials have stopped until after the election. He also said that since importation takes about 30 days to arrive from port of origin, it would be April before import begins to pick up.

"Import has gone down because of election and it won't pick up until after the election, and that has also made import cost come down. The truth of the matter is after the New Year break, importers will wait to see the outcome of the election before knowing what to do.

"And we all know that a majority of those who import shut down importation in November to go for Christmas, and this year is peculiar because they won't come back till after the elections and it also take 30 days for import to arrive from port of origin," the source explained.

A financial expert and managing director, Cowry Assets Management, Johnson Chukwu corroborated the above statement.

He said, "The level of importation has gone down as a result of investors waiting on the outcome of the elections. However, after elections, economic activities are expected to pick up."

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