Border closure impeding on trade, investment – Expert
*Says Customs needs, helicopter, technology to monitor the borders
By Udeme Clement :
The General Secretary, Institute of Research and Development, Dr Adewoye Olabode, has called on the Federal Government to reopen Idiroko and Seme borders linking Nigeria with other countries within the West African sub-region, in order to enhance trade facilitation for greater economic growth.
Dr Olabode, who is also a Lecturer with Yaba College of Technology, Lagos, gave this advice while delivering a lecture on the theme, ‘Trade facilitation in Africa; challenges and opportunities’, at a summit on ‘National Trade and Investment’, organised by Trade Power Global Communications, at Airport hotel, Lagos.
According to him, “continuous closure of Idiroko and Seme borders by government is impeding the growth of many businesses and Investment flow between Nigeria and ECOWAS community.
He explained that government’s strategy to curtail rice smuggling across these borders can be achieved without total closure of the borders, which is now hindering trade of local companies with investment partners in the sub-region.
He asked, “How long will government close the borders because of a single item? If our borders are porous, let government use technology to secure the borders like what obtains in advanced countries.
“It is the duty of Customs to monitor goods coming into the country through the borders. So, government should equip Customs operatives with modern tools to monitor the borders effectively
“For instance, Customs operatives can use helicopter to monitor activities at the border communities. That way, no body will complain about porous borders, because aside from goods coming into Nigeria through the seaports, the land borders are essential for trade and investment”.
He went on, “The bad condition of Seme-Badagry road is another challenge that government should address as a matter of urgency.
“The fundamentals of trade facilitation include transparency, simplification of processes to enhance ease of doing business, harmonisation of trade guidelines to remove unnecessary bottlenecks and standardization. The regulatory framework should be published for the public and investors to know.”
In her remarks, “The Honourary Consul, Consulate of Republic of Liberia, Dr Opral Mason Benson, who spoke on the, ‘Contribution of trade/investment to economic growth in Nigeria’, said trade is vital for economic competitiveness.
“Trade is important to every nation because it increases productivity and higher income for the citizens.
“Trade enhances economic sustainability. It plays important role in job creation and poverty reduction. Trade brings about food security and sustains development goals of a nation.
“Nigeria needs greater action to promote trade and investment by ensuring regular power supply, good roads, adequate security measures in the country, human capital development and research”.
The programme, which brought together investors and traders from various sectors of the economy ended in awards presentation to deserving investors, as well as entrepreneurs, who were described as employers of labour in Nigeria.