The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has said that Nigerian shippers lost over N15 trillion in three months due to the Coronavirus pandemic that grounded the world economy.
SALS President, Rev Jonathan Nicol, lamented that it has proved difficult for shippers to transact business during the COVID-19 lockdown.
Rev Nicole predicted a shortfall of cargo during the second quarter and third quarter of year 2020. He said that this is because most of the factories in the country are shutdown and most people were working from home.
According to him, what shippers could have probably done in two days; it took them about one or two weeks because shippers are now dealing with individuals at different stage of the globe.
He added: “We lost N5 trillion in two weeks. You compute it for two months, it is not a joke, it is huge. The more you think about it, the more you get very upset because the losses are enormous. It should be more than N15 trillion we lost because Nigeria is a huge entity. We are talking of Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano and all the major ports went to sleep.”
He lamented that shippers’ income for the month of January, February, March and April has been so horrible. He said some of SALS members are retrenching their workers because they could no longer cope.
“You know salary is regular whether you work or not, at the end of the month, you have to pay employees first and the employee will want to know why they ask him to stay at home. It is not that they ask him to come to work and fails to come. So as employers cannot cope, they have to downsize the strength of their staff and that will throw people into unemployment market.
“It is going to be tough for Nigeria for some months, you know, we are very resilient people, we are self-made, we weather the storm and this is the time we need government’s support. And government should understand that we are now part of the bodies generating revenue into government’s coffers,” he said.
He hinted that government should realise that they can depend on the maritime sector as a cushion for shortfall of revenue, which of course, shippers try to do during the lockdown by taking the risk of going out to clear cargoes from the port.