By Adaeze Okechukwu
THE Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, has expressed discontent with the newly introduced cargo palletization policy.
Director, Corporate Affairs, MAN, Mr. Ambrose Oruche, expressed this disapproval during the ‘Revised Export and Import Guidelines Sensitization Workshop’ held in Lagos last weekend, stating that palletized cargo will only increase the cost of doing business in the country.
Pallets are plane/flat structures utilized in cargo container ships for supporting goods.
Oruche stated: “There is an improvement in the 2017 revised guideline from the previous one. However, the snag to this one is the introduction of pallets for the importation of consignments. The palletization will definitely add to the cost of doing business.”
Oruche disclosed that this palletized cargo initiative may be counter-productive to the country’s ease of doing business agenda.
“The intention of the government is to ease the cost of doing business, by making the inspection of consignment easier; however, the palletization policy will only increase the cost.
“If wooden pallets are used, treatment costs will be incurred; meanwhile, steel and plastic pallets are expensive. Who then bears the cost of the pallets from the exporting country? If the cost is imposed on the manufacturer, who imports the raw materials, they will eventually transfer the costs to the consumers.”
But the Deputy Comptroller, Nigeria Customs Service, Mr. Anthony Ayalogu, explaining the need for the pallets, asserted that the high cost of freights resulting from palletized cargo is a valuable price to pay to ensure the safety of Nigerians.
He stated: “Palletization is an international practice, so this is not unique to Nigeria. It will enable efficient examination of consignments. When customs officers are confronted with unpalletized consignments, they find it difficult to offload them. Importers sometimes suffer damages as a result of mishandling of consignment via human contact.
“In addition, consignments take a longer time when done manually by customs officers. When the consignments are pack haphazardly in the container, it becomes almost impossible to examine. Sometimes due to the difficulty level, they are not thoroughly examined and anything can then be brought into the country.
“At this time, importation is on high alert. We want to make sure that every container is examined properly. I agree that palletization will increase the cost of freight, but it a worthy price to pay to secure the lives of Nigerians.”
However, speaking on the sidelines of the workshop, Product Certification Director, Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr Tersoo Orngundwem disclosed that the government would review the cargo palletization policy.
“We have heard the complaints of the stakeholders. The government and the committee will take a second look at it and carefully categorize goods that should be palletized and those that should not. I will definitely ask you not to palletize cars and bulk goods. The palletization guideline is not a deliberate attempt of the government to make businesses difficult for people.”