SON proposes revitalisation of moribund paper sector

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*Director general of SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and relevant stakeholders have reviewed standards to revive ailing paper the sector with new standards.

Speaking at a technical committee meeting for standards consideration of pulp and paper, the director general of SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma said “there is for the nation’s paper industry to be abreast of global technology and standards in order to be competitive with similar businesses across the world.”

He explained that the technical committee meeting was to ratify the requirement of standards that a group of experts had already worked upon to address challenges the products pose to manufacturers and by extension the Nigerian economy.

“We need standards to guide some technical issues related to these products; perhaps this is what has been causing the collapse of some of our giant paper mills in the country. But with the set of these new standards, it would go a long way to revive some of our ailing industries. Controversies will be resolved with ease because we have a source of reference and the review will make us in tune with global best practices,” he said.

Aboloma who was represented at the meeting by the SON’s deputy director, standards development directorate and group head, chemical technical group, Mr. Agboola Afolayan, said: “We have been carrying out different Technical Committee meetings in different sectors of the economy to provide relevant standards available to all the sectors of the economy. Every sector needs standards for its operations to ease ways of doing business and promote trade.”

Earlier, the chairman of the technical committee, Dr. Chima Igwe, who is also the director chemical, Fibre and Environmental Department, Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi, (FIIRO), said without standards, quality products will not exist.

He urged Nigerians to look out for quality products, saying “SON is out to protect the interest of Nigerians while also encouraging local manufacturers of paper products.”

He said beyond the protection of local manufacturers of those products, the SON through standards “is also promoting the trade of paper and allied products.”

“The development of a country could be established via the quantity and the volume of paper the country uses whether for education or other domestic purposes. This technical committee is important because we used to have three paper mills, but all went comatose and later just one is about to come back. We are out to ensure that this mill do virgin pulping which is the key to paper production and not secondary fibre formulations like most companies are doing as stakeholders.

The task is not going to be an easy one, because setting standards is not an easy task. Standards are consensus documents but it has to be grounded in science and technology,” he added.

In his remarks, the director of laboratory services, Institute of Public Analysts of Nigeria, (IPAN), Mr. Wole Opeoluwa, said the aim of the meeting was to enable end-users get the best from manufacturers and also from recyclers.

“The public should be assured that very soon the products in the markets would see obvious improvements in their quality in terms of use, durability and safety. Twenty to 25 years ago, the industries that take the raw materials from trees and convert to paper have all shut down due to obvious economic reasons; we would discuss this and seek way forward in terms of policy to government on how to revive these industries. The infrastructure and manpower is still available, it is believed and hoped that at the end of this meeting, the industry would have a working template to come back on stream,” he said.

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