From Ogbonnaya Ndukwe, Aba
Leather Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State (LEPMAAS) has lamented that the high cost of components used in shoe production was threatening their production capacity and jobs.
President of the Association, Okechukwu Williams said his members are presently finding it difficult to produce shoes, as six of the eight important components used in the process, are imported with their prices now skyrocketed following rise in exchange rate.
He said: “Seventy percent of the materials we use in the production of shoes, are imported either from China, Italy or other countries where shoe and leather materials are produced.
“And for us here, it is not good news that in the 50 to 60 years the Aba shoe industry has existed in Nigeria, no conscious effort was made to reduce the quantity of imported raw materials used in manufacturing leather products.
“Such attempt could have even created more employment through the sector, and enriched the country in some way.”
He lamented that the continued drop in value of the Naira against other foreign currencies like the United States Dollar (USD), the Euro and the Chinese Yuen, among others, in the exchange market, had greatly affected the overall cost of production and from there, increased prices of finished leather products. “Foreign exchange rates which have risen astronomically, has gone a long way to affect the overall costs of finished leather products in the sub-sector in Abia state”.
Williams said his members, hardly make profits from their jobs now because, the cost of raw materials has skyrocketed with customers not willing to add to old prices of their shoes.