Leather Products Manufacturers Association of Abia State (LEPMAAS) has decried the high cost of components used in shoe production which they say is threatening their production capacity and jobs.
Mazi Okechukwu Williams, President, LEPMAAS, made the disclosure in Aba on Tuesday and said his members are finding it difficult now to produce shoes as 6 out of over 8 components used are imported and have now skyrocketed following rise in dollar rates.
“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 a good news that for the past 50 to 60 years that Aba shoe industry had 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 way.
“And as such foreign exchange rates which has risen has gone a long way to affect the overall cost of finished leather products in the sub-sector in Abia state”, he said.
He said that their members can hardly make profits from their jobs now because the cost of production materials had skyrocketed and customers are not willing to add to old prices of their shoes.
He said that the development was threatening not just the production of Aba shoe products but also the jobs of people in the sector through which they feed their families.
Williams, therefore called for concerted effort to strengthen the Naira through 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, National Development Bank and commercial banks to sustain its production.
He said the financial institutions has roles to play to make the leather sector more productive adding that they should design products that would suit operators in the sector.
The leather works sector in Abia employs about 80, 000 workers producing close to 52 million pairs of shoes annually worth an estimated N130 billion.