Serious battle is raging across leading trading centres and markets across Nigerian and mainly in Lagos as Chinese nationals relying on their manufacturers enter Nigeria, study moving goods, return home and import them into Nigeria for direct sales to Nigerian in markets.
Undercover investigations by Markets Business Hilights in several markets in Lagos including Lagos Island, Alaba International and Lagos Trade fair complex, showed that the illicit trading act had been causing fights between Chinese perpetrators and markets leadership.
In some of the markets, the Chinese have paid for shops, warehouses and even went as far as other major markets across the federation to rent shops where they sale their imported products direct to buyers even at wholesalers prices, thereby killing several businesses of Nigerian who import similar products from China.
A top official of one of the leading markets in Lagos Island (name with held) confided in our correspondent that “We have been fighting them.”
“We have made it clear to them that as Chinese, they are only manufacturers and should not in any means become either wholesalers and not to talk of retailers’.
“Some of them that felt they have either Nigerians or Chinese people that are backing them to displace us in our retail business have been fighting us in the market.
“Taskforce always lock up their shops because as none Nigerians, our law only allows Chinese or any other national to possibly partner with Nigerians who would be distributing, warehousing and retailing their products and not to come into our markets and own retail shops.
Asked if they had made any form of report to federal or State government, the official decried sabotage on the side of the government, saying “Severally we have complained to both Lagos State and Federal Governments that Chinese is displacing us in our markets by importing good produced by their families and stooping so low to retail them at giveaway prices, thereby killing our businesses.”
“When we observed that they (Chinese) may have connived with relevant government officials due to the inability of enforcement agencies to do anything meaningful arrest of the Chinese traders, we now fight with them at any slight provocation in the markets.
“Even when we go to Police, they have a way of finding their self out upon clear evidence showing that they are not supposed to doing direct selling business in Nigerian markets.
“They do not belong to our business association and therefore should not sale in our markets, but the struggle had continued till today.
Corroborating the views of the Lagos Island traders, some top business executives at the Lagos Trade fair complex, also give clear evidence of the illicit practice.
Many of them revealed that some of the Chinese ‘intruders’ had been wounded in market fights especially when they set out to sell their goods below market price so as to import at a regular interval while Nigerian importers are battling to sale theirs.
They noted that when the fights become messier, the Chinese resorted to hiding under the guise of some notable importers to be importing in their names while their Nigerian partners do the wholesaling and retailing on their behalf.
Investigations revealed further that market sections where Chinese interferences are more pronounced include medicine, fashion, woman hair and attachments, motor spare parts and electronics.
At Lagos trade Fair complex, several top traders’ association executives who spoke on grounds of anonymity said several trading plazas have outlawed renting warehouses or retail shops to Chinese and anybody found conniving with foreigners to displace Nigerian traders will be sent out of the market.
However, further checks showed that the illicit involvements of Chinese in direct selling of imported goods to Nigerians in the plazas are still ongoing but some levels of veils.
In an interview with an official of the Federal Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Investments under anonymity, he said “Whereas Nigeria is encouraging foreign investors; we are not inviting foreigners to come and displace Nigerians in their businesses. A Chinese who wants to engage in trading in Nigeria has to pass a set of processes and there are limits to the type trading he or she can do and not opening a shop in Nigerian markets to sell goods at manufacturers’ price.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria would not allow that. If we get such reports officially from any of the affected markets or trading plazas, we will do the needful without delay because I don’t think they are the type of foreign investors we are looking for.
Some Chinese seen inside Lagos trade fair complex and medical line axis of Idumota Market, Lagos Island could not relate very well in English but on noticing the direction of the interview, declined to make any comments.
Some of the Nigerian traders accuse Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) of complications in the entire matter as the traders claim that many of the Chinese do not possess work permit or documents that should officially allow them to do business in Nigeria, yet they are doing businesses in Nigerian markets.