Director-General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Mr Osita Aboloma has reminded clearing and forwarding practitioners of the vital role they have to play in the SON’s quest to stem the influx of substandard goods into the country
Aboloma gave the reminder when the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) visited the SON Lagos office.
He said the son would intensify engagements with stakeholders in the maritime sector, expressing optimism that the collaboration of the two organisations would reduce to the barest minimum, the preponderance of fake and substandard goods in the country.
According to him, the efforts were all geared towards creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive while also protecting the lives of the unsuspecting Nigerian consumers.
Aboloma said it was in the same bid that the SON was working relentlessly towards full automation, adding that this would help checkmate the use of touts to its services.
In his words, “We are appealing to the operators in this industry to be forth-coming in their declaration of goods. But beyond that, we are also automating our processes to make it seamless. When you automate, you have less human interface, and there will be no more need to patronise touts for accessing our services.”
According to him, “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”, Aboloma said.
He said by doing things right, that the members would be saving both cost and lives and that continuous application of standards would save cost and lives of Nigerians.
Also speaking at the event, the National Vice-president ANLCA Dr. Kayode Farinto, commended SON for its relentless efforts aimed at tackling substandard goods while also restating its commitment to supporting the agency in its quest to rid Nigeria of substandard 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 dealing with substandard goods on the economy.
“We are also going to work with SON to ensure that any good that does not conform to international best practices, we would discourage our members from clearing them .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.
He urged operators in the industry to be patriotic and desist from the illicit trade of substandard goods which has no economic value
The Director, Compliance, Obiora Mmanafa, stated that the association played a big role in ensuring the safety of Nigerians and property, pointing that the SON would continually sensitise stakeholders on the harmful effects of substandard goods.
“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 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, 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 today is to try as much as possible to sensitise them on doing the right thing,” he added.
He said plans are underway to hold a sensitisation workshop on 5th of November, 2018 in Port Harcourt for stakeholders in the maritime industry, saying this would also boost the confidence of Nigerian buyers.
Recalling an earlier partnership of the SON and BBA he said it was informed by the fact that the association was the biggest single market in West African region, and the most reasonable place to start the fight against substandard goods.
“We are coming against the perpetrators of substandard goods with all the laws available to us as an agency. It is no longer going to be business as usual. It is either you close your shops, move away from our markets or you have us to contend with,” he said.