Shoemakers, others decry high cost of raw materials
Shoemakers and other finished leather products manufacturers in Aba – the commercial hub of Abia State have decried the high cost of raw materials used in the production of shoes, belts, bags, and trunk boxes.
They noted that prices of production components like adhesive gum, pure leather, and shoelace are rising daily, thereby stifling activities in the finished leather sector.
Okechukwu Williams, the president, Leather Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State (LEPMAAS), who revealed this Tuesday, during an interaction with some select journalists in Aba, stated that members are now finding it difficult to produce shoes and other finished leather products, as 6 out of over 8 components they use for production are imported and have now skyrocketed following the rise in dollar rates.
According to him, “Almost 70 percent of the materials we use in the production of shoes are imported either from China or Italy or other countries, where shoe and leather materials are produced.
“And for us here, it is not good news that for the past 50 to 60 years that the Aba shoe industry has existed in Nigeria, there has not been a conscious effort to reduce the importation of leather works raw materials.
“Such an attempt could have even created more employment, through the sector and enriched the country in some ways.
“And as such foreign exchange rates, which have risen, have gone a long way to affect the overall cost of finished leather products in the sub-sector in Abia state”, he stated.
He noted that their members can hardly make profits from their jobs now because the cost of raw materials has skyrocketed and customers are not willing to add to the old prices of their shoes.
He explained that the development is not only threatening the production of finished leather products in Aba, but also the entire leather chain.
Williams, therefore, called for concerted efforts to strengthen the Naira, through the consumption of locally-made products, increase in exportation and investments in other industrial sectors.
He said that the sector needed the assistance of development institutions, like the Bank of Industry (BoI), National Development Bank(NDB) and commercial banks to sustain its production.
This is he emphasized that financial institutions have roles to play to make the leather sector more productive adding that they should design products that would suit operators in the sector