By Miriam Humbe
In spite of constraints relating to its physical presence at the seaports, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) confiscated substandard goods worth about N22.7 billion naira in the out-going year.
Making this disclosure at a one-day sensitization program for maritime operators in Lagos, the Director General, Osita Aboloma stated that “80 per cent of the nation’s imports pass through the sea ports and waterways and SON is only invited to carry out physical inspections for compliance to standards when “deemed necessary’’.
Represented by the Director, DG’s Office Lagos, Mr. Kabir Mohammed, Aboloma disclosed that this has impeded SON’s fight against the influx of substandard imports, which necessitated its collaboration with the Association of Nigerian Custom Licensed Clearing Agents (ANCLA) and the Nigerian Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) in a series of Interactive awareness forums.
According to him, the forum’s objectives include engaging clearing agents and freight forwarders nationwide on SON’s regulatory tools and requirements for imports as well as to serve as clearing house for stakeholders and operators to cross-fertilize ideas on improving operations, while also complying with import guidelines.
He disabused the minds of maritime operators that SON is out to shut down their businesses stressing that rather, the organization is out to protect legitimate businesses and the consumers from the dangers of substandard products on Nigerian shores.
He opined that the industry has everything to gain by having a better understanding of SON’s processes and procedures especially in the areas of electronic product registration, the mandatory and offshore conformity assessment programmes, SONCAP and MANCAP, respectively as well as NICIS, Form ‘M’ and PAAR.
SON, according to him, has developed electronic mechanisms to limit human interface and encumbrances such as, the e-clearance, e-demand note and e-receipt in consonance with the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business policy and to ensure seamless clearance of cargo at the ports.
Aboloma enjoined all importers, clearing agents, stakeholders and the public to take optimum advantage of the sensitization programme “as it will no longer be business as usual seeing that we must all endeavor to do the right things to protect lives and properties of Nigerians as well as the nation’s economy”.
He reiterated that product registration was no longer a requirement by SON for clearing of goods, but rather a requirement for imported products to be in the markets.
Speaking at the forum, founder of NAGAFF, Dr. Boniface Aniebonam, lauded SON’s efforts at creating an encumbrance free regime to ensure things are done in the right way to discourage smuggling into the country.
He remarked that maritime trade across the world has become a transparent affair and enjoined freight forwarders present to carry the message of compliance to their colleagues to ensure general conformity to SON’s guidelines and processes, in order to promote zero tolerance to substandard imports.
Also speaking at the event, ANCLA Vice President, Dr. Collins Farinto proffered that “there are standards at every level of operation in the industry meant to discourage dumping of substandard goods into the country”. He restated his association’s readiness to collaborate with SON in the area of self-regulation of its members through sanctions and retrieval of license of any agent found to be involved in clearing substandard goods into the country.