Siyanbola A. Oladapo, MD/CEO, Bowill Group of companies, and General Secretary, Association of Nigeria Courier Operators (ANCO) in this interview with Saturday Vanguard Business suggests ways courier services can help boost Nigeria’s economy . He also proffers solutions to the numerous challenges facing the operations in the industry. Excerpts:
Tell us what Bowill Errands is all about?
Bowill Errands is a courier company which sets international standards as its benchmark and which consistently strives to surpass customers’ expectations. We are poised to be the model and one of the best managed indigenous local companies.
Bowill Errands is a solution and service provider in the business of courier, haulage, logistics, cargo and mail room management. It is a company that wants to rival with the best international courier companies in terms of quality service and standard.
We can boast to be one of the most capitalised indigenous courier companies in the country managed by seasoned professionals who have paid their dues in the industry.
Another big plus to the success story of the company is the quality of the Board. These are people of high integrity who have made names in their chosen fields.
Just about 10days ago, we organised another successful public lecture, the second edition with the theme OPPORTUNITIES AND EMERGING TRENDS IN COURIER INDUSTRY that was delivered by a seasoned practitioner, former MD of FEDEX now MD of SAHCOL Mr Isaac Orolugbagbe with papers delivered by NDLEA,CHAMS and Prof Taiwo Osipitan (SAN) and chaired by Prof Gabriel Olawoyin and Kayode Opeifa, adviser on transportation to Lagos State Government.
What BOWILL has done by the solely funded yearly public lecture is to raise the standard and the stake in the industry, awaken its consciousness and assist the investing public on investment opportunities while at the same time draw the attention of the 3 tiers of government to the challenges of the courier practitioners.
My knowledge and experience of the courier market which spanned over 12 years has been handy in the running of the company. The company is set to look different from other indigenous courier companies. So, from day one, we have set out to be different. Our brand is unique and we always make our customers come back.
With our structures in place, we cannot afford to engage in sharp and unethical practices. We have our warehouse where we store customers goods unlike most of the cargo companies that may not be traced in case of eventualities. All the measures put in place from day one has consistently served as a check on us.
Don’t also forget the fact that I was a banker for many years and branch Manager when banking was still honourable, when a Manager understands all aspect of banking unlike now when a fresh graduate without real training can become a branch manager if he can mobilize substantial deposit.
My experience and training as a banker has assisted me so greatly in areas of financing, fund management, human resource management, corporate governance ,etc. We can quickly determine when we are overtrading. We recognize virtue of hardwork and the importance of meeting financial obligations to our creditors.
How do you see courier service in Nigeria compared to abroad?
The courier service in Nigeria is such that potentialities in that industry have not been maximized despite the huge market available in Nigeria. There are still roles for us to play.
But then, the problem with Nigeria is infrastructural problem. We face the challenges of bad roads and multiplicity of taxes. I must however commend Lagos state Government on streamlining various multiple charges especially with Local Government, though there is still room for improvement.
Accessing finance through banks is another major challenges more so now that they are also struggling to keep afloat. Their assistance to small companies even before economic meltdown was nothing to make business grow as they were always after mega business for mega profit which has now resulted in mega collapse.
They were not ready to play their roles in stimulating the economy. Bank loan to small companies then was frustrating. All these factors actually affect us, unlike in advanced countries where banks will like to see your accounts and offer you facilities that will help your business to grow.
With these challenges, there is a limit to what anybody can do. Government is also not helping matters. The overzealous local government officials impound our dispatch motorcycles for non existent offences at will, thereby causing delays in our operations.
But thank God for Lagos state government which has supplied functional phone numbers of all government officials that could be contacted but that has not removed the fact that your delivery time has been affected.
What strategy do you think would best help the courier industry in Nigeria?
The best strategy is to create enabling environment and framework for the business to flourish, where a player is not the referee as is the practice now.
NIPOST is regulating the industry through CRD. You also have the EMS, BULKPOST Venture.
These same organisations under NIPOST compete with the same courier companies they are regulating. It is unethical. Though the regulating body Courier Regulating Department (CRD) is trying to strike a balance but it still has her limitations.
The solution to this abnormality is setting up the Commission and the bill to that effect is believed to be receiving attention at the National Assembly, even though it is taking a long time.
The coming of the Commission could address the identified lapses and make the operators more professional, that is if experienced and better hands are allowed to run the commission.
Charlatans have to be chased out of the industry, institutes that can offer courier courses must be set up, the knowledge of the business we have is from the training and crash programme which we learnt from the internationals who started courier companies in Nigeria. Multiple charges must be streamlined.
Courier licences must be categorised.
How favourable is government policies to the industry?
Most government policies sometimes are strangulating. Some government policies are designed only for the purposes of generating revenue and what the government agencies think about is meeting their revenue target irrespective of the implication on the economy, a situation that has improved the economies of neighbouring countries at the detriment of Nigeria. Policies reversal do not give room for long term planning.
The business of courier service requires motorcycles for service delivery, and now Lagos State has banned Okada riding, what’s your take on this?
It is an unfortunate situation where Lagos state government needs to strike a balance between security/ safety of inhabitants of Lagos and business development. These are laws that have been there before but are now being dusted.
I am the General Secretary of ANCO, an umbrella body for courier companies operating in Nigeria and so with other officials in ANCO and NIACA, the two industry Association, we have been meeting with Lagos State officials and we are working things out to see if courier motorcycles could be exempted.