The director general of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr. Osita Aboloma, has said that clearing and forwarding agents have important roles to play in ridding Nigeria of imported sub-standard goods.
Speaking in Lagos during the meeting of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Aboloma said SON was ready to partner with the association to checkmate the menace at the point of entry.
Aboloma said ANLCA “is one of SON’s strongest allies to reduce the preponderance of fake and substandard goods to the barest minimum” adding that the agency would intensify its engagements with operators in the maritime industry through sensitisation programmes to combat the threat of substandard goods.
Besides, he said SON would create the enabling environment for businesses to thrive while also protecting the lives of unsuspecting Nigerian consumers.
Furthermore, the director general said the agency “is working relentlessly to fully automate its process to reduce the level of human interface” stressing that “this will help to eradicate the use of touts to get access to its services while also ensuring seamless port operations for stakeholders in the maritime industry.”
“We are appealing to the operators in this industry to be forth coming in their declaration of goods so that they do not take advantage of the lacuna involved in the clearing processes. They have agreed to work with us in all sincerity while also keying into our processes to create an enabling environment for operators. We are trying to fully automate our processes to make it seamless, this would help to tackle some of the corrupt practices operators experience at the ports. When you automate, you have less human interface, there will be no more need to patronise touts for accessing our services.”
“The fight against substandard goods starts from beyond the shores of Nigeria and that is why we have put SONCAP in place to verify the quality of products coming in. We still have to follow products that we suspect are substandard and even in the markets. Importers must insist on doing the right thing and imbibe the culture of standardisation and quality assurance so that people will have confidence in their products or services. Do the right thing to save cost and lives so that we can continually improve the lives of Nigerians through standards and quality assurance,” Aboloma added.
Also speaking, SON’s director of compliance, Mr. Obiora Mmanafa, stated that the association plays important role saying the agency would continually engage stakeholders and the general public to sensitise them on the harmful effects of substandard goods to health as well as the economy.
“Although they are not the importers, but they are the ones clearing these goods, so we are engaging them to sensitise importers to do the right thing and doing the right thing is complying with SON’s requirements, complying with standards. We are not here to stop their businesses; we are not here to destroy people’s products because when we do this, we are losing money and it is a big loss to the economy. We will not also say that because we are losing money we should expose the unsuspecting Nigerian consumers to danger. Our meeting…is to try as much as possible to sensitise them on doing the right thing,” he added.
He said plans were afoot to organise a sensitisation workshop in November 2018 in Port Harcourt for stakeholders in the maritime industry on the need to adhere strictly to standards while also complying with regulations.
In his remarks, the national vice president ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto, commended SON for its effort to tackle sub-standard goods.
He stated ANLCA’s resolved to support the agency in its quest to rid Nigeria of sub-standard goods.
“We stated the challenges that we face in the course of carrying out operations at the ports, but the director general is very proactive where most of their processes are automated and it had so far helped us to achieve seamless operations at the ports.
“The onus now lies with us to sensitise importers on the negative effect of substandard goods on the economy. We are also going to work with SON to ensure that goods that do not conform to international best practices, we will discourage our members from clearing them at the port.
“Honestly we are impressed with the level of work done by the agency especially in the area of automation of their processes. Our members have been able to enjoy seamless operations at the ports,” he added.