Dr.  Afolabi, Executive Vice Chairman, SIFAX Group.


SIFAX Group, a multinational corporation with diverse interests in maritime, aviation, haulage, logistics, oil and gas and hospitality, has said lack of critical infrastructure could hinder the success of the Federal Government’s drive at improving the ease of doing business in the country.

Recall that the acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo had recently issued an Executive Order aimed at facilitating the ease of doing business in the country, which is a cardinal policy of the Federal Government, which gave rise to the putting in place a Presidential Committee on Ease of Doing Business headed by the acting President.

Executive Vice Chairman of the Group, Dr. Taiwo Afolabi, who spoke in Lagos at the weekend, observed that the ease of doing business initiative by the government was a welcome development, as it would address some of the needless bottlenecks encountered in the service delivery process.

He however noted that the problem of infrastructure deficiency in the country remains a major hindrance to the ease of doing business initiative of the Federal Government and should therefore be urgently addressed in order to complement the executive orders signed recently by the acting President.

Citing the case of the port access roads in Apapa that have literally broken down and constitute a source of concern to all business stakeholders, Afolabi said fixing the roads would not only aid the initiative but also bring relief and order to one of the country’s economic gateways.

“The Ease of Doing Business executive orders are good and brilliant initiatives to improve the customer experience, particularly at the nation’s points of entry. I want to commend the government for it. However, I want to submit that the initiative should be an all-encompassing one, where other hindering factors, especially critical infrastructure, are attended to without delay.

“Take for instance, the Apapa Ports, there is no way a customer experience can be improved when the importers and exporters find it extremely difficult to transport their goods in and out of the ports because the roads are in a sorry state. Containers fall on these roads on a daily basis with attendant losses. Workers, residents and business owners in the area are not finding things easy as well.

“My appeal to the government is to do a thorough review of other inhibiting factors to doing business in Nigeria and immediately tackle such issues with the urgency with which the Abuja airport’s faulty runway was fixed. Only then we will truly improve the customer experience in the country,”, he said.

The acting President had in issuing three executive orders penultimate week, said they were expected to enhance operational efficiency among agencies of the government, which is in line with the policy of promoting ease of doing business in the country.

The orders specifically directed all agencies currently physically present in nation’s seaports and airports to harmonise their operations into one single interface station domiciled in one location in the port within 60 days and implemented by a single joint task force at all times.

This is without prejudice to necessary backend procedures.

In addition to requiring all agencies to have one single interface station at ports, the orders also outlawed the practice of touting at seaports and airports across the country.

The executive orders give specific instructions on a number of policy issues affecting the promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment designed to facilitate the ease of doing business in the country, support for local contents in public procurement by the Federal Government, and timely submission of annual budgetary estimates by all statutory and non-statutory agencies, including companies owned by the Federal Government.

The executive order on promotion of transparency and efficiency in the business environment was mainly to “create an enabling environment for businesses and entrench measures and strategies aimed at promoting transparency and efficiency”.

The orders read in part: “Each Port in Nigeria shall assign an existing export terminal to be dedicated to the exportation of agriculture produce within 30 days of the issuance of this Order.

“The Apapa Port shall resume 24-hour operations within 30 days of the issuance of this Order”.