Border closure: Industrialists lament N2bn daily loss

Local manufacturers are said to be losing over N2 billion daily since Nigeria shut the  border with Benin Republic and Niger. 

The manufacturers are claiming to have suffered huge losses and incurred major lapses in financial transactions, just as production lines are shutting down and workers are being laid off.

Findings showed that foods and beverage manufacturers are the most hit owing to their inability to import already purchased raw materials while goods meant for the ECOWAS sub-region and Trans-Saharan markets have been prevented from leaving the shores of Nigeria via the country’s land borders.

Investigations revealed that the inability of some manufacturers to meet up with the orders in the Letter of Credit (LC) from foreign partners has put them in trouble as they have failed to comply with ECOWAS protocols, owing to the closure.

As such, some companies are finding it difficult to service the loans they secured to import some consumable goods and raw materials, which has adversely affected their business relationship and financial transactions.

Sources within the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) disclosed that since the closure, goods meant for the ECOWAS sub-region and trans-Sahara African markets had been prevented from leaving the country through the land borders. Worst hit by the border closure are companies like Unilever, Nestle, Cadbury, Flour Mills, Honey Well and PZ, among others, as some of their trucks had been trapped at the Seme Border since August 19.

A source explained that some locally manufactured goods are produced mainly for export, and as such, 80 per cent of the revenue bases of such people are from export materials. Noting that perishable goods stocked in some warehouses are now spoiled, expired or damaged due to heat, the sources further explained that some companies are now unable to bring in raw materials already paid for, which were purchased from neighbouring countries, for local production.

Another source from MAN also lamented the situation, saying members of the association had been affected. While advising the government to arrest the importers of illegitimate goods in order to allow legal trade flourish. The agency pleaded with the government to relax its decision and allow manufacturers bring in their raw materials, while noting that the closure had impacted negatively on individuals who were into legitimate trade and improving the nation’s economy.

A manufacturer, simply known as Ola-Oluwa, said she could not afford to keep her workers on the payroll, not knowing when business would pick up, as such, some of her factory workers had been asked to stay off due to low capacity utilisation.

Another of her colleague said except for the major industry players, most organisations affected by the closure had put their workers on the alert because they are set to downsize.

“It is an unfortunate situation.We don’t know how long this will remain in force, so we can’t continue to keep our workers. They are our staff and they understand why we are asking them to go home. If things get better, we will call them back, but for now, that is the situation,” he said.

Another affected manufacturer said: “Is it the closure of borders that will solve Nigeria’s problems? I will say no, because what is happening is that people are still crossing and goods are still finding their ways into the country and those that are doing legitimate business are the ones suffering.