By YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos
The current yuletide season has witnessed a massive increase in the importation of food items and other goods, including those listed among the 41 items banned by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from accessing the foreign exchange window in their importation.
Among the imported products are salt, wheat and soya beans and other items needed by local manufacturers for the production of finished goods.
This significant increase during yuletide is the first time since 2016 when the country slid into recession and restrictions were placed on the importation of certain goods by the CBN.
Though the yuletide season is usually known for high importation at this time in Nigeria, a highly import dependent country – with over 80 per cent of household commodities imported yearly – can only witness an increase in the trend.
However, the increase was credited to the availability of foreign exchange in the hands of shippers and the general upturn of economic activities in the country.
For instance, between December 2 and 20, 2017, the Apapa and Tin Can ports complexes are expected to receive 56 vessels, compared to 27 vessels in 2016 and 53 vessels within the same period in 2015.
A shipping document from the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) showing vessels expected to berth at the seaports in Lagos and oil jetties in the Lagos axis showed that out of 56 vessels coming to the ports, 24 containerized vessels are leading, as usual, with vessels calling at APM Terminals, TICT, Port & Cargo and in Apapa and Tin Can Island Port.
The number is, however, an increase from nine in 2016 and 21 vessels that were laden with containers which called at the ports in 2015.
Some of the vessels are billed to arrive after the week, as late as 9-17 of December, indicating that fewer vessels may be reported for the coming days by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).
Other vessels expected within the week included five vessels laden with bulk wheat expected to be received at ENL Terminal, Josepdam and GDNL, ABTL terminals in Lagos and Tincan Port.
Also, NOJ, ACJ and BOP are expected to receive 16 vessels laden with 343,509MT of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) commonly known as petrol, DPK known as diesel, ATK known as kerosene and Jet A-1 or aviation kerosene.
Meanwhile, six vessels laden with bulk wheat container, vehicles and general cargo are presently berthed at Josep Dam, TICT, Port & Cargo and Five Star terminal at Tin Can Island Port Complex, discharging their various cargoes.
Also, 13 vessels are also berthed at different terminals of the Lagos Port Complex, Apapa, discharging bulk wheat, soya beans, salt, PMS, AGO and containers.