By Miriam Humbe
Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) has strongly upheld the premise that SON should be returned to the ports immediately for quality verification of imports to forestall the envisaged increase in the influx of substandard and life-threatening products into the country with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement
This was revealed by Comrade Ray Ugochukwu, President of MAJAN the umbrella body of maritime journalists during a media roundtable between SON and the Maritime journalists held recently at the NAGAFF Secretariat in Apapa, Lagos.
Ugochukwu said there are growing concerns amongst interested parties in the industry on the adverse effect of increased importation from other African countries and the issue of Nigeria becoming a dumping ground if adequate checks are not put in place to verifiy the quality of goods coming into through the country’s seaports.
“We are aware that SON is not presently at the ports physically and are only invited when there is a glaring need, this we all know cannot guarantee the curbing of the importation of substandard and life-endangering products into Nigeria as unscrupulous Importers have been taking undue advantage of the absence of SON to carry out quality verification of goods into Nigeria”.
He appealed to the Nation’s policymakers to expedite action in considering returning SON to the sea ports so that Nigeria will not be overwhelmed with substandard and life endangering products.
Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, founder National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders NAGAFF) in his goodwill message reiterated the need for SON to be returned to the ports for proper quality verification of imports in the overall interest of the Nation’s economy and the welfare of its people.
He also advocated complete overhauling of our value systems to ensure that things are done properly at the policy level devoid of negativity that impede real development in the country.
At the media roundtable on the readiness of SON for the implementation of AfCTA, the Director General SON Osita Aboloma Esq. represented by Deputy Director, Inspectorate and Compliance, Engr. Enebi Onucheyo stated that SON has put checks place to forestall imminent challenges that may arise from the free movement of goods within the continent.
Aboloma said SON is prepared for the African Continental free trade agreement with the ongoing harmonization of standards, its Internationally accredited laboratories, the ongoing development of the National Metrology Institute (NMI) at Enugu and the International accreditation and recognition of its Management systems certification and Training Services processes respectively.
He disclosed the automation of the organization’s services, active participation of SON in common quality policy meetings between Nigeria and other African countries on Mutual Recognition Agreement of quality marks, deployment of information technology, surveillance and intelligence gathering as some of the other preparatory steps for the implementation of the AfCFTA.
Aboloma called for greater collaboration of stakeholders with SON stressing that the organisation cannot achieve much on its own. According to him “hands must be on deck to ensure that if stakeholders see something unwholesome, they say something to SON”. He also advocated self-regulation within the maritime industry, stating that the nation will be better for it.