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Customs Agents Seek New Revenue Sources Amidst Import Decline

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The livelihood of licensed customs agents in Nigeria is threatened by the rising cost of clearing goods. ANOZIE EGOLE investigates the alternative business avenues they are exploring to survive.

The ease of doing business in the maritime sector is hindered by various challenges, such as high clearing costs influenced by fluctuating exchange rates and other factors.

This distressing situation has left many licensed customs agents feeling hopeless, unsure of how to support their families.

Some agents have lost their jobs, and others have even relocated to their hometowns in an attempt to reduce living expenses.

Additionally, the extensive list of prohibited goods in Nigeria poses further limitations for practitioners in the maritime sector, restricting the range of imports.

NewsNow recently reported that 60% of licensed customs agents in the maritime industry have abandoned their profession due to the adverse effects of the fluctuating exchange rate, opting for jobs like commercial motorcycling (okada riding).

Founder of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, Lucky Amiwero, acknowledged that while Emefiele’s tenure at CBN impacted the maritime sector, the current administration’s policies have caused even greater challenges, leading to approximately 30% of licensed customs agents leaving the job due to the exchange rate fluctuations.

Amiwero explained that during Emefiele’s tenure, the forex market was more stable, with gradual fluctuations, unlike the drastic changes experienced now, affecting both import and export activities.

Nnadi Ugochukwu, Deputy President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, highlighted that over 60% of licensed agents have switched careers due to excessive taxation and the lengthy Nigerian import prohibition list.

To cope with these challenges, licensed customs agents are exploring alternative avenues to sustain their livelihoods and support their families.

One such avenue is ship chandelling, which involves supplying ships and their crew with equipment and provisions, offering significant potential in Nigeria.

Moreover, many agents are overlooking exportation opportunities, focusing solely on imports, despite the saturated import market. Exploring exportation could bring in foreign exchange and address forex scarcity.

Another alternative is trucking consultancy, where agents facilitate truck services for cargo transportation without needing to own a truck.

Some agents are also involved in car delivery services, leveraging their expertise in clearing and duties to assist in car purchases and deliveries.

Mr. Toochukwu Nwaigbo, a licensed agent, has ventured into truck consulting to sustain his livelihood, while Johnpaul Ejiogu finds success in delivering cars to their destinations, as traditional clearing jobs become less profitable.

Diversifying into these areas not only provides income for displaced licensed agents but also contributes to the growth of these sectors and aids in revenue generation for the government.

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