As part of efforts to salvage Nigeria’s economy in the post COVID-19 era, the Federal Government has been admonished to simplify export processes.
Seaport Terminal Operators Association of Nigeria (STOAN) made this appeal recently, noting that export processes should be simplified to encourage exportation.
The spokesman of STOAN, Mr. Bolaji Akinola made this call during an interview on Live Conversation with Maritime TV.
According to him, the post COVID-19 era would see a significant drop in the volume of imports into Nigeria, adding to the nation’s revenue challenges which include the dwindling global crude oil prices.
He posited that these developments should see the nation turn to export to sustain the economy. Hence, it is time to improve the export processes and requisite infrastructure.
His words: “It is time we begin to look at how to simplify the export procedures in Nigeria. For a nation trying to expand its revenue base, you would expect that exporting would be very simple, but that isn’t the case in Nigeria. Exporting is as frustrating as importing”
“We need to simplify these export processes because the current governmental system seems to be intended to snuff life out of businesses”
He recalled a yam export disaster which occurred at Lilypond terminal when it was an export bay to fast track the process of exporting.
“The then Minister of Agriculture, Chief Audu Ogbeh came to flag off the exportation of one container of yam at Lilypond terminal. There were over 50 cars at the terminal on that day for the ceremony. After the fanfare, we expected that the following day the container would be in Europe but it remained at Lilypond for another 15 days,” he said.
He lamented that despite the ceremony, the yam got bad as a result of delays in obtaining Customs clearance, quarantine certification, clearance by the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), among others.
Beyond the complex and strenuous export process, he also noted that exporters are frustrated with the bad road infrastructure they contend with to get their cargoes to the seaports.
“Imagine coming to Lagos ports from Kano with a container load of tomatoes. Think of all the challenges on the way to Lagos. When you eventually get to Contain in Lagos, you get stuck for another two weeks for various processes,” he queried.