The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has made known its determination to continually fight the influx of substandard product into the country.
The Director General of SON, Osita Aboloma who disclosed this yesterday in Lagos at a one day workshop organized for maritime stakeholders on Facilitating Trade Through SON’s Automated Services also reiterated SON’s commitment to continually protect Nigerians from the dangers of fake, substandard and dangerous products.
Representing the DG at the workshop, the Director of Inspectorate & Compliance department, Engr. Obiora Manafa, disclosed that the workshop is meant to sensitise the Licensed Customs Agent, the Freight Forwarders and leaders of other trading groups in attendance as they are the links and middle men between the importers and the regulatory bodies.
He explained that the workshop main objective is harps on Compliance to standards and usage of the organizations seamless trading portal to obtained all needed documents before importation of any product’s into the country.
The DG added that the organisation recently upgraded its SONCAP portal to enhanced service delivery and reduced human interaction to the barest minimum.
He explained that SON recently upgraded its Portal for the operations of SONCAP to enhance service delivery, promote quicker turnaround time and reduce human interaction to the barest minimum
He stated that the Portal has been running seamlessly since then and only those who fail to adhere to the offshore Conformity Assessment Program and documentation would have reasons to complain as the application and approval processes for SONCAP is seamless.
He urge all importers to process their SONCAP or Import Permit operations as applicable as they are pre-shipment processes and avoid a situation where products arrive the shores of Nigeria without SONCAP Certificates or ImportPermits.
According to him, it is hundred percent more expensive to chase already imported products than stopping such importation at points of entry.
He said, it requires security cover, logistics and surveillance to keep the anti substandard goods battle up.
Aboloma did not fail to point out the important of collaboration as the key to success of SON in its pursued of implementing its policies and programms.
“Collaboration is the key to success since SON cannot do it alone, to achieve zero substandard import. Please join us to sensitize and educate the importers and general public on the importance of quality goods and services.
” The works of standardization, quality assurance as well as campaign againstsubstandard products have always remained a collaborative and partnership efforts between the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the numerous stakeholders.
“Again, over 75% of the bulks of products that enter into Nigeria daily, monthly or yearly come via the Nation’s Seaports and Waterways. It would therefore be difficult to ignore the Maritime Sector operators in the quest for zero imports for substandard and unwholesome products as well as the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business (EODB) Policy.”
He said the workshop will among other things provide cross fertilization of ideas, views , suggestions and solutions on how to move the Nation’s Maritime sector forward especially in these days of Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business,E-clearance, Destination Inspection and on-going repositioning of the Nation’s ports.
Aboloma lamented that the non-involvement of SON at some Ports in the country operations has continued to pose challenges particularly to the agency’s compliance and monitoring unit as according to him It is easier to fight the influx of substandard products at the points of entry than chasing them around all over the country in markets, warehouses and the likes.
The National President of ANLCA, Iju Tony Nwabunike, in his presentation said that his members sees their profession, not only as a means of livelihood, but also as a way of contributing to national economic, social and total well being of consumers and as a result of this, are the unsung ethic of promoting standards and best practices across various areas in the course of carrying out their cargo clearing functions at the seaports, airports and border stations.
Nwabunike pointed out that Customs Brokers have always been at the receiving end of importation of substandard and fake products as they bear the risk and consequences when such products are either seized or destroyed.
” Over time, the customs brokers have been victims of substandard importation by importers who, in some cases, failed to disclose to us the actual content or degree of compliance with extant rules like SON Confornmity Assessment Programme (SONCAP).
“You will also agree with me that the influx of these illicit products, in addition to being injurious to our national economy, also spells doom for our people. A proverb among the lgbos says “When a man throws a stone into the market, he does not know whether it is his mother or another close relation that would be hit by the stone.
” In view of copious challenges faced in our line of business, we have taken it upon ourselves to educate importers on the need for their compliance to safeguard lives and avoid losses emanating from seizures and destruction of fake and substandard goods.This task is daunting, but we are not relenting because customs brokers have suffered an estimated cumulative losses amounting to over N20b in the last ten years for undertaking to clear goods discovered to be substandards.
“Let me put it clearly, that upon seizure of suspected fake or substandard goods after payment of duty, it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an importer, whose consignments were seized to pay you the balance of the agreed sum even after the broker has spent his money on the logistics.
“As a way of contributing to the actualization of government’s ease of doing business and trade facilitation objections. I call on the Nigeria Customs Service to quickly integrate SON into its upgraded home grown technology platform, Nigeria Customs Information Systems (NICIS II)” he quipped.
He however commend SON for the good works they have been doing and urged all to support them. He called on the organisation to established its laboratories in all the six geopolitical zones to ease product testing, while also urging SON to make the stakeholders meeting a regular exercise.
Also speaking at the workshop, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, the founder of NAGAFF and Chief Eugene Nweke , former president of NAGAFF also lend their voices to importers and their Agents conforming to SON’s processes of Standards before bringing in their goods into the country.
Officials of SON from the SONCAP, Ports and Borders and Inspectorate and Compliance Directorates also educate stakeholders on the various processes and procedures to be taken both seamless and manual before and after importation of their goods to be free from SON’s custody.