Mr. Siyanbola Oladapo, president, Association of Courier Operators of Nigeria (ANCO) has decried the delay in the passage of the Postal Reform Bill (PRB), and said that political, social and economic factors are to blame for the recent challenges faced by operators.
He said that the passage of the bill; and right economic decisions by the government will help restore investors’ confidence.
Oladapo who is also the MD/CEO of Bowill Errands Limited, told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek, that “The courier industry is not immune to the present economic challenges in the country. The economy has witnessed recession. About a year and plus ago when the new government came in, it was politicking; they had to settle and have cabinet in place because the new government is an infusion of many political parties needing to satisfy different groups and party faithful.
“Almost at the same time they came in the price of crude oil was falling and so it has been difficult for them to fulfill their promises. And, Nigeria as a mono-product economy there was a huge challenge. In other words, before they could get their acts together the economy has slid to recession. There are security challenges compounding issues for the country too.
“The implication to the courier is that in places like the North-East it was difficult to do business. Businesses were shutting down. It was difficult for us (the country) to get things together and move forward at the pace the citizens envisioned.
“Also, the advent of e-commerce which is supposed to be a plus, but then most buyers lost the purchasing power; skyrocketing unemployment with companies folding up, these events impacted the courier negatively. The capital market also has its own challenges. Most of our members are key players in the market. Likewise, the cost of doing business was going high. Companies are looking for means to reduce cost. Therefore, in the last one year, all those things made the courier industry to face the challenges as inherent in the economy. In fact, it has not been easy for the players in this industry.
“Those who even want to import are not having it easy because there is shortage of foreign exchange. So, we cannot even assist them to ship things in. At that point people/companies were agitated and were kind of stayed aloof to reassess the capacity of the government to redeem the situation.
“Again, the cost of replacing machinery was there. We have the challenge of buying equipments to replace or rehabilitate damaged ones. Most infrastructure have failed too. The roads are bad. With State Governments owing months of salaries, people are trying to make a living. This has also led to the increased activities of touts who pose as local government officials making lives miserable for dispatch men out there in the street.
“The supposed officials resort to jungle justice; taking laws into their hands and extorting money from operators. When you call to lodge in complaints, nobody will be there to listen, because they have not earned their salaries too. All this has dire effect on the operators. The social, economic and political challenges impacted the industry too”.
Expectations this Year
Speaking further, Oladapo said that the present realities also present the industry players with opportunity to think-out-of-the-box and synergy on how to utilize available resources.
He said, “In times like this (recession) people get smarter; you think outside the box. So, companies will be concerned on how to reduce costs. This is when the concept of synergy will play better. Although, the synergy has its pros and cons. Trust and capacity are required to maintain such relationship in business. Having said that we believe 2017 will be a better one.
“First, the Postal Reform Bill (PRB) is receiving a better attention at the National Assembly. The Postmaster General, we believe, will leverage his political afflictions to get things moved in that direction. It was due to clash of interest in the past that has actually delayed the Bill. The post PMGs seemed foot-dragging on the matter, probably, for personal reasons. But the new PMG has a mandate to change the situation and he would want to score the point. The industry expects that intruders will be shown way out of the industry.
“As government is seeking for new ways to mitigate the forex impasse we expect things we get better; companies should be able to either import or export goods. As the price of crude is coming up Nigeria will have enough dollar (foreign exchange) to back up people’s demands. The courier sector will bounce back also”.
He added that boom in e-commerce space, “once people’s purchasing power is back”, will help the industry blossom to live again.