Unemployment : Youths find solace in timber export

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It”s been so treated in Nigeria .We don’t even give it a thought that it takes time for it to be naturally nurtured .

Nigeria does not only have a very poor economic structure, the leaders also believe that God, the timber planter will always plant new ones. So, the people live their lives, mowing the timbers down, without planting new ones. ‘God will plant new ones’.

The average Nigerians have special love for teak, mahogany and melina; and so always mowed it down, sometimes, even at premature stage; either to be used for building constructions, bridges, furniture making, farming tools and firewood etc, until some smart ones realized that if the item could be exported, they could immediately begin to smile to the banks, at the expense of the forest. Since then, the nation’s forest has known no rest, with even sometimes, the operatives of the forest conservation agencies, joining in the rush, resulting in massive deforestation, with no visible plans, beyond the periodic and uncoordinated campaigns by political leaders urging for planting of trees.

The International Trade Monitor learnt that the rush for the Nigerian timber started on a gradual note, with some going towards the United Kingdom , USA and Japan . But the market trend grew into such frenzy capable of adversely affecting the nation’s naturally green environment, thereby forcing the Government to intervene; setting up new restrictions which though, outrightly banned the exportation of logs, but still allowed the same timber to be exported after being processed: cut up to certain sizes, and treated or seasoned with some kind of chemicals.

Perhaps, this new requirements could have become a set back for the exporters, but for the arrival of the Chinese, whose appetite for wood products appeared insatiable, until recently. Fortunately, the major outfit which could have led a protest for the protection of the trees, the newsprint producers at Oku Iboku, also went under, leaving the fields, dangerously open!

Subsequently, an enviable group of market-ers have appeared on the horizon, merchan-dizing on woods. Investigations showed that most of them were presently based around Ikorodu in Lagos State and Abeokuta-Ijebu Ode axis in Ogun State; and from where they travel to as far as Kogi, Edo, Osun, Ondo and Benue States in the bid to hunt out the woods, assemble them at their dedicated sawmills, got them “seasoned” or “processed”, before cutting them up, for final destination outside the country.

A reliable source told the International Trade Monitor (ITM) that not fewer than five containers of the 20 feet size normally departed each of the numerous base in Lagos , for a Lagos Port

The wood export business has provided job opportunity for a number of youths who are now going into saw mill business in , Ijebu-Ode, Sagamu, Ondo, Ikorodu and many other coastal cities, from where they are now transferring containers laden with processed timber th the ports for export.

One of the young exporter of timber told International Trade Monitor in his Ikorodu sawmill, few days ago, that he went into timber export business when he could not secure a suitable job after graduating from the Lagos state University Seven years ago.

“You see, my friend introduced me to this business. After Seven years of graduation, I could not secure a job, but I thank God that this my friend, Lati came to my house one day and told me about this business. I was not willing to join him initially, but he was able to convince me that I will forget about white collar job if I can take some time off to his saw mill along Ijebu-Ode road one day to see how much he was making from the business. One day I was feeling bored at home and I decided to visit him. When I got there, I saw him with one Chinese who was supervising the loading into container and I asked my friend what he was doing with the oyibo man and he said he was his business partner. That moment I became interested, but my friend said I have to learn the trade for one year before I can go on my own. I agreed, and I was following them to the bush in far away Kogi, Kwara, Edo and the rest. At the end of the day my friend will just offer a token for my transport and feeding. That was how I learn the trade and today I am on my own making good morney for myself because I have established contact not only in China , but other countries where I am now receiving request for supply, but the kind of wood they asking for is hard to get here, but all the same I am enjoying the business, it is better than being jobless.”

The young man , who gave his name simply as Moruf, said he now has confident in himself ,hence his plan to now take a wife. “I am earning good money now, so I am confident in myself that I can conveniently take a wife and I am about to do so now. The way I came into this business, that is how many of this young people came in. you can see that we are, but wait why are you even asking me all these question? I hope you are not trying to spoil our business with what you are going to write? Please don’t do so because I don’t want to go into unemployment again o. Please tell the government to give us loan to expand our business, if we have good money now, we can even add more value to wood we are exporting , and we can earn more from that. On the challenges associated with the business, he said, please tell the police not to be extorting money from us on the road again. Sometimes I can spend up to N50, 000 on the police between Kogi and Lagos to get a lorry load of timber to this saw mill and some of them used to come here for settlement. But we are not doing illegal business here. So please tell the police to leave us alone, Moruf appealed

But tour usually reliable source also noted that the business of timber export may soon suffer a setback, as the Chinese were now complaining that Nigeria was supplying only the hard woods type, rather than a blend, accommodating various kinds.

“Business is no longer like before again. There was a time we used to send at least five container loads daily, to the port. But now, it is no longer so. The Chinese are complaining that we supply only one kind of hard wood. They want teak and melina.

“But, how can anyone be talking of Melina when we sometimes have to travel as far as Port Harcourt, to access unripe mahogany” he confessed, stressing that the buyers thought they planted woods; and therefore enjoy the privilege of cutting them at will for export”.

SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL TRADE MONITOR

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