Coronavirus, which has now been designated as pandemic by the World Health Organization(WHO), having claimed over 4,500 lives and sent global market into tailspin, is also impacting negatively on Alaba International Market, the hub for electronics and electrical products in the country.
Since the outbreak of the respiratory disease in January till now, trailers carrying containers, which used to be a common sight in the market have disappeared completely as importations, most especially from China, have come to a halt.
Sunday Sun investigations revealed that most of the importers made their last importation late last year that most of them now have run out of stock.
Most of the importers who spoke with Sunday Sun lamented their plight as the disease is spreading across the world.
They said that they are in a fix because while they are running out of stock, they cannot re-stock because China has become a no-go country.
According to them, even importing via way bill is not an alternative since one does not know the health condition of the person that one wants to send money to, that is, whether he (the exporter) has also been quarantined or not.
They said that if this situation persists, Alaba International Market may close down because over 90 per cent of the products on sale in the market come from China.
Hon. Edwin Izuchukwu, a dealer in generator and water pump equipment, said that they are really in trouble because of the Coronavirus that is hitting China and the other parts of the world.
He said that there is now scarcity of products at Alaba International Market, which has caused a sharp increase in price.
He said that though he has ran out of stock, he cannot take the risk of going to China because it might turn out to be a journey of no return.
According to him, most of the importers have decided to resign to fate.
Izuchukwu said that the outbreak of Coronavirus ought to be a good opportunity for Nigerians to begin to look inwards and start to think of how to be less import dependent.
Also, Sabinus Ugwoh, an importer of salon and barbing equipment, said that the reality was China is under economic lock-down at the moment.
He said that a lot of companies in China have stopped because of the Coronavirus.
He said that under this economic and health crises, it would be foolhardy to send money to any company in China.
He said that this was the real reason Nigerian importers have decided to stop way billing as one has to look very well before leaping.
“The world is in economic crisis because of the Coronavirus. The last time that I went to China was November last year and right now I have almost run out of stock with the goods that I imported then. But the reality is that I cannot go back there until the situation is brought under control. Talking of waybills, a lot of companies in China have shut down because of the outbreak and it is even risky to pay money into somebody`s account the way the disease is spreading like Australian fire, you don’t know who has been quarantined. The only way to restore importers’ confidence is for them to bring the disease under control. My advice to the Nigerian government is to tighten all the national borders and also make sure that all those coming into the country by air are properly screened,” he said.
Also, Comrade Joel Izundu, importer of brand new and fairly used products from China and other countries said that he has for the time being abandoned importation of fairly used products because it requires the importer to be physically present.
According to him, business is gradually closing down in Alaba International, adding that many of the traders no longer come to the market because they have nothing to sell.
Izundu said that if the Coronavirus persists, Alaba International market may close down because most of the products on sale in the market come from China.
He said: “You can see that the market is empty. Containers are no longer coming into the market because we are no longer importing. My last import was October last year and right now I have completely run out of stock. We usually send money for brand new products, but fairly used products require physical presence. Right now, the two have come to an end because I cannot go to China for the fairly used products and I cannot take the risk of sending money to any company with the way the disease is spreading and infecting both the high and the low.”