- Textile Industry Under Threat From polyester Scarcity, Others
The current scarcity of polyester is threatening the survival of textile industry in Nigeria, investigation has revealed.
Polyester fibre is used as cushioning and insulating material in pillows, comforters and upholstery padding. It has high tenacity and durability and can withstand strong and repetitive movements.
But the material, according to operators, is scarce because local production is not sufficient to meet its demand.
Operators are also said to be having challenges accessing foreign exchange, making it difficult for them to procure essential raw materials.
Even though the Federal Government recently reduced the import duty on some of the raw materials and chemicals for the sector, operators said that it was not a consolation as it did not solve the challenge of access to forex.
The Director-General, Nigerian Textile Manufacturers Association, Mr. Hamma Kwajaffa, told our correspondent that the polyester, a synthetic fibre derived from coal, air, water, and petroleum, was not produced in enough quantity to satisfy the demand of the users.
According to him, Eleme petrochemical plant, that produces polyester locally, does not produce enough and that the scarcity is exacerbating the crisis in the sector as more manufacturers have suspended production, sacked workers and turned to other sources of income.
“Most of the Okada riders you see today used to be textile manufacturers,” Kwajaffa said.
The situation, according to the operators, has overshadowed the various efforts taken by the government to revive the sector, such as the Central Bank of Nigeria’s N50bn Textile Intervention Fund and the slash in the import duty of some of the raw materials for the sector.
According to Kwajaffa, the major challenge faced by manufacturers in the sector is access to forex, insisting that there is little collaboration between the apex bank and commercial banks in the area of making forex available to customers.
He said, “To access foreign exchange, we have to go through our banks. They keep telling us that they do not have foreign exchange to give. The situation has impeded our production activities because most of our production components cannot be sourced locally.
“Some of the manufacturers have already stopped production, and it is becoming difficult to convince others not to suspend production.”
He also said, “Easy availability of foreign exchange will allow textile manufacturers to procure raw materials, and thus help in enhancing production, resulting in job creation and increased contribution to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product.”
On the N50bn CBN intervention fund, Kwajaffa said most of the operators could not access the loan, adding that out of about 50 people that had applied for it, only 15 people were given.
He called for the release of the textile development levy to the operators, recalling that 10 per cent levy on imported fabrics was established by the government in 1997 to revitalise the textile industry.
He noted that if the funds were established as a special trust fund, it would enable more practitioners, who could not access the N50bn CBN intervention fund, to benefit from it.
Kwajaffa remarked that out of over 84 textile firms that existed in the country in the 80s, only about 24 were left, some of which were managing to stay afloat.