The National Association of Nigerian Traders (NANTS) has appealed to the Federal Government to set up a committee to document list of genuine traders’ goods and containers seized since border closure for compensation.
The NANTS President, Dr Ken Ukaoha, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Tuesday in Abuja.
Ukaoha noted with concern that some genuine traders’ goods, worth billions of Naira with expiry dates were impounded alongside smuggled goods.
Nigeria shut its land borders on Aug. 20, 2019 to curb smuggling and worsening security issues.
President Muhammadu Buhari, however, approved immediate reopening of four critical land borders namely, Seme in the Southwest, Illela and Maigatari in the Northwest and Mfun in the South-South.
The trade expert noted that the genuine traders and manufacturers had about N240 billion worth seized goods on the Nigerian side alone while on the Benin Republic side there were over N600 billion worth of goods.
In terms of number of trucks, he said there were over 1,185 trucks also stranded at the border.
“On the goods that were stranded since Aug. 20, 2019 when the borders were shut down, we are sadly noting and perhaps calling on government to see ways of looking into some of the recommendations that we made.
“That government should come up with a committee that will document in a proper manner the list of goods and items and the containers (vessels) as well as haulage vehicles carrying those goods that have been stranded since the border was closed.
“The committee should also document the number and the names of those vehicles, true owners of those wares and commodities seized, then the appropriate locations.
“These documentations will help us and everyone to see transparency and help government so that everybody will see how transparent the government is, in her dealings.
“The reason why we are seeking for this proper documentation is that there is need for government to consider the owners of goods that were stranded especially where these goods are genuine goods under genuine transactions,” he said.
Ukaoha said it would make these genuine traders and operators including manufacturers as well as the transporters thereof not to be treated like smugglers.
He expressed concern that there was possibility that most seized goods might have expired because over 70 per cent of the goods were Agro products especially those going out of the country.
“Out of the borders that were shut down, four had been ordered to be reopened by the President.
“But sadly for us, out of the four borders ordered to be reopened Mfun border in Cross River is still not fully opened to the public.
“The other ones are still partially opened. Our members in Mfun informed us that the border officials, immigration essentially complained that they were yet to receive signals from their headquarters. So, that place remains shut down.
“The two in the Northern axis and the one in Seme have partial opening in the sense that activities have not picked up and movement of goods and services have not been lifted the way they used to be.
“But we are hoping and believing that perhaps preparations are on top gear,” he said.
Ukaoha, therefore, urged the government to consider the traders and manufacturers adding that many of them who had borrowed money from various banks to transact businesses were being held presently by the banks.
“So we want to know how government will come in to assist and compensate them,” he appealed. (NAN)