…Begs Government to ensure a more stable policy regime!***
The Chairman, Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS), Rev. Jonathan Nicol has appealed to the Federal Government to make the operating business environment more conducive particularly, in the areas of stable policies, stressing that policy somersault does not encourage realistic business projections.
The SALS Boss made the observation in Lagos, noting the devastating impact of a sudden hike in fuel pump price, electricity tariff and VAT had on businesses and why several members of the business class and freight forwarders in Nigeria have high blood pressures.
“It was like we had a deep slumber; and then, we just woke up to find out that the environment has changed”, Rev. Nicol Jonathan stated, noting that it was like the entire operating environment suddenly changed, totally altering expectations.
“In other, for you to import goods you have to make a projection; and projection has to do with finances, including how your goods can be distributed, once it arrives at the ports of destination”.
He maintained that there was no way a hike in fuel pump price would not directly impact the cost of haulage, just as a similar surge in electricity tariff would not impact the cost of production or storage.
“The terminal charges too would increase and the road transport will be something else for the rich.
“So these are challenges we have at the moment and you don’t know if the government will reverse this harsh economic reality. It is a challenge and, we are not in the position to tell the government not to run their affairs the way it should be done.
“I think the environment is presently too harsh, too expensive and I must say that this might lead to some companies thinking of staff reduction”, he said, mentioning some shipping companies already considering the option of staff rationalization.
He posited in any environment where policies were seriously unstable, the business class was saddled with the additional task of going back to the drawing board, sometimes with the arduous task of working to retrieve their capital, as unforeseen policy introduction would have made getting any profits impossible.
He insisted that the cost of doing business as projected by the Vice President is presently, almost non-existence because of the price increase.
“If you go to the hospital, the prices of drugs are gone up. You can’t even buy some drugs now. So, for those who don’t even have jobs, they now depend on God for survival. When some with jobs agree their own case as pathetic”.
He pleaded with the Government to work on delivering workable palliative that can go across board, particularly something that would cushion the masses in the areas of health, transportation and food.
Rev. Jonathan lauded Government’s effort on road construction and rehabilitation; even as he also stressed the need to ensure that contractors were compelled to guarantee quality or durability.
“The government is trying. They are building roads, but then, you go back to history and you see that the roads Gowon built are more durable; and even more suitable than the ones we are constructing now”, he said, noting that the inadequacy of roads infrastructure had adversely caused transportation of a container which hitherto N50,000, from Apapa to Ikeja now to N350,000 and beyond. He recalled that there was even a time that getting a container from Apapa to Ikeja even gulped N800,000.
“So, how do you want the system to accommodate the high cost of living when there are no palliatives? When there is no support from the government? These are some of the challenges we are looking at. Of course, every average shipper and every average freight forwarder is prone to high blood pressure; and that is because the system is the creator of high blood!