Shoppers may be struggling to purchase goods this Christmas as importers are paying dearly to move their laden containers from the seaports in Apapa to warehouses across the country as the surging price of diesel takes a toll on the cost of container haulage likely to be passed to end-users.
The cost of moving containers from Lagos port to importers’ warehouses in Lagos increased by an average of 100 percent.
With the pump price of diesel now N1,300/ litre, truckers say they are finding it increasingly difficult to break even in the haulage business.
The National Bureau of Statistics’ Automotive Gas Oil (Diesel) Price Watch for October 2023 shows that the average retail price of diesel paid by consumers increased by 25.45 percent on a year-on-year basis from a lower cost of N801.09 per litre recorded in October 2022 to a higher cost of N1004.98 per litre in October 2023.
Meanwhile, on a month-on-month basis, an increase of 12.82 percent was recorded from N890.80 in the preceding month of September to an average of N1004.98 in October 2023.
BusinessDay checks show that transporting a 40-foot container from Apapa to Mushin which used to be N400,000, now costs as much as N800,000 while the transport cost of a 20-foot container from Apapa to a warehouse in Lagos goes between N350,000 and N400,000 from about N200,000.
Also, transporting a 40-foot container from Lagos to Onitsha or Nnewi in the East now costs as much as N1.8 million while a 20-foot container from Lagos to a warehouse in Onitsha or Nnewi now goes for N800,000.
Meanwhile, the cost of taking a 40-foot container from Lagos to Abuja is now N1.6 million; a 20-foot container from Lagos to a warehouse in the north is now N800,000; a 40-foot container from Lagos to Kano costs around N2.4 million while a 20-foot container from Lagos to Kano cost as much as N1 million.
“The soaring price of diesel is affecting our business and it is no longer easy for one to embark on a trip without making sure that the payment will cover the money spent on fueling the truck,” said Bello Yusuf, a truck operator.
In addition to the high cost of fueling, truckers are also spending huge sums on repairing their trucks and buying expensive spare parts due to the surging inflation.
“Vehicle spare parts are very expensive. One China tyre sells between N170,000 and N180,000 each while an imported used tyre (Tokunbo) sells for between N100,000 and N110,000. Imagine how much a trucker will spend to change the tyres of a truck that goes with 18 to 22 tyres,” Yusuf told our correspondent on the phone.
He said many truckers cannot afford original Indian tyres given the high prices of spare parts in the Nigerian market today.
“I didn’t know that Nigeria has spoiled this much until I wanted to load this night. We loaded a 40-foot container to Abuja for N1.6 million but the same container is paying N2.4 million to Kano and N1.8 million to the East. This is because demand is high on the Lagos-Eastern route compared to Lagos-Abuja,” Tony Anakebe, a Lagos Customs Licensed Agent, said.
Anakebe said Nigerian transporters were spending a substantial sum to buy diesel to power the truck and they are also blaming the delay in obtaining call-up tickets as part of the challenges faced in their business.
Bala Mohammed, a truck operator, also told BusinessDay that the pump price of diesel at N1,300/litre has increased the operation cost of truck operators.
According to him, issues such as extortion by security agencies along the port corridor and the checkpoints on almost all the highways in Nigeria are also taking heavy tolls on the haulage business and eating into their profit.