11 September 2017, Sweetcrude, Lagos — The United Berger Auto Dealers Association has raised alarm over what it called a significant drop in the volume of vehicles sold from about 80 percent to as low as 10 percent.
The auto dealers also lamented that this has caused its sprawling parks to be congested with thousands of unsold vehicles.
The dealers who were seen last week idling away when this reporter visited some of the sales points, also complained that imported vehicles in the Berger auto parks are yet to be sold, thereby making it difficult for newly imported ones to be accommodated.
Even though the market has about 18 different parks, our correspondent learnt last week that lack of parking space has caused some dealers to pay money for extra space to be reserved for them.
Some vehicles that could not find spaces in the various parks are also seen daily parked on the various roads adjoining the expansive automobile market located on the ever-busy Apapa-Oshodi expressway.
The President of the Association; Mr. Metche Nnadiekwe explained that dealers have been recording poor sales for a while. He noted that dealers of trucks and lorries are the most affected by the drop in sales.
Our correspondents confirmed that a combination of the bad roads leading to the market and high foreign exchange rate between the Naira and Dollar and Euro has made importation of used vehicles a herculean task.
“Even at that, those of us who can wade through it still travel to import, but the vehicles we had have not been sold, so we have a problem of space,” a top dealer told our correspondent last week.
Other auto dealers at the market, blamed low cash flow and forex as the major causes of low sales in the market.
They made reference to the last Sallah celebration, saying that in previous years a lot of people would have thronged to the market to buy vehicles.
One of the dealers, who simply identified himself as Poto Odogwu, said that during previous Sallah celebrations, dealers used to record high sales especially in the sales of Toyota products, he lamented that 2017 was different.
He also complained of inadequate parking spaces for vehicles in the park.
“Before now, during Sallah Festival, we know the kind of sales we make. But now people go for cheaper cars because there is no money. One of the major challenges here has to do with parking space for cars; the whole place is filled-up. Since we were asked not to be parking cars directly under the bridge, one can hardly see where to park our car for sale. I have a car still in the warehouse; I don’t know where to park it, those are my reasons for not to bring it out.”
“Vehicles are coming in here but the space we have is very limited. The thing is very frustrating, if there is no place for you to display your vehicle, how will someone see it and buy”.
He maintained that even though the Naira has gained slightly against the Dollar, sales are still low.
“People might be thinking that now that Naira has appreciated, that it will bring a boom to the sales, but it is not like that. The people, who imported the vehicles when the Dollar was very high, still want to sell it at that rate of importation not minding that the rate of Dollar has dropped. So, when a buyer comes and you tell the price, they will start telling you that there is reduction in Dollar rate. That is the issue we are having here” he said.
Also speaking, a truck dealer who simply gave his name as Mazi, said that auto dealers are suffering as some of them have not made any sales since the beginning of the year.
“Some of us are suffering here; we have not made any sales since this year. There is no money, Dollar is high. Some of us have been able to sell just one vehicle. There is no parking space especially for trucks because the old ones are not sold, so there is no space for the new ones to come in,” he lamented.
President of the dealers association; Mr Nnadiekwe however charged the dealers to consider the possibility of selling their vehicles in other parts of Lagos State. He said it is not compulsory that everybody must display his vehicle at Berger.
“It is not compulsory that everybody must sample (display) their vehicles at Berger. They can try other auto markets in other parts of Lagos state to sample their vehicles. Sales have drastically dropped here in Berger, people are really suffering. If I should rate the sales by percentage, I will say that it has dropped from 80% we used to have in the previous years to 10% this year”
“I will blame the FOREX for this, and secondly, the cash is not flowing the way it should. There is no money anywhere” he said.