Traders at the Alaba International Market, Lagos have cried woes over very low sales since the ease of lockdown by the federal government.
Executive Chairman, International Market Association, Alaba International Market (Electronics), Evang. Paulinus Ugochukwu, in a chat with TimeNewsreporter explained that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic had posed a problem to their sales especially as the traders were out of business for three months with little or no sales even in this ease of the lockdown.
He said the pandemic is really a problem affecting the traders and the customers because most people are now focusing on food stuff not on buying material items, a situation that has resulted in very low sales, adding that since then the exchange rate had been on a daily increase, as most of the traders have consignments at the Port but do not have fund to clear them not minding that the demurrage on the goods is counting every day.
His words: The pandemic is a problem because there was no business for three months; even now the markets open only three times amounting to 12 days in a month and five hours per day.
“Also the demand for goods is not high because of the impact of the COVID-19 which is affecting everybody; most people are out of job like teachers who have not been going to school. So most people now are paying attention food; it’s when feed and have extra money that you start looking for electronics to buy.
“If you don’t sell you can’t import and the exchange rate too is going up every day; dollar rate is now N500 per dollar.”
Ugochukwu therefore, called on the government to intervene and help the traders at this time which he described as critical.
“We really need government’s intervention to help us; some of us can’t even pay our workers. We need government’s intervention at this critical time of our lives.
“First of all let the government start selling dollar at the rate of N360 per dollar as it was prior to the pandemic to allow things return to normal.
“In some states like Anambra, Imo and Abia market opens six times in a week; so let Lagos State Government give us six days in a week from 7am to 6pm as we were doing before.
Reacting to the allegation by some importers that the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) steal from their consignments in the name of sampling, Ugochukwu said SON samples his product as an importer and returns them to him after test.
He added: “None of my members has complained that SON officials retain his product after test. Most of them don’t even ask for return; if you do, SON will return them for you.”
Unlike other importers, the Executive Chairman equally said “we have no problems with Customs, Police or any other body under Federal Operational Unit (FOU) once we’re cleared from the Port because we don’t sell contraband goods.”
Giving an applause to SON’s sensitisation programme, Ugochukwu said fake products have reduced in the market because majority of people now have their brand names.
He said: “I have my own brand name, majority of our people have and it’s competing with the foreign ones, because majority of people have their brand names fake products have reduced. This is so because instead of marketing other people’s brand you market yours.
“Though you cannot eradicate fake products completely but you can curb it. People are no longer selling other people’s brands but theirs so, branding has reduced it.
“We promised SON that we’re going to work with them.”
It could be recalled that SON has been on a sensitisation programme encouraging importers and traders to stop faking other people’s products rather they should register their own brand name, import and sell with it to the intent that over a period of time they would build a reputable brand that could compete with notable ones.
This programme so far has worked a magic wand as it is gradually phasing out fake products in the market.
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