Coming on the heels of claims by the Vice President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Dr. Kayode Farinto that the lackluster automation process in the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) was costing importers huge demurrage, SON has come out to debunk the report.
Farinto on Monday at a press briefing with Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) said that it has been difficult to obtain SONCAP, a document needed before goods can be cleared from Nigeria Customs domain.
He said the migration of SON processes from manual to electronic has slowed cargo clearance, and that it was costing importers not less than N6billion daily.
A statement from the office of the Director General, Osita Aboloma on Wednesday however stressed that it is the importers who fail to comply with the pre-shipment process who are crying wolf on accumulation of demmurage on their consignments.
According to the statement
signed by the Head, Public Relations, SON Bola Fashina
the portal was recently upgraded to ensure optimal performance, enhance a seamless operation and more efficient service delivery to customers and stakeholders alike.
He said “The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has debunked the claim by one Kayode Farinto over a purported collapse of its online application portal for the operation of the offshore Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) for processing of SON regulated imports into Nigeria describing it as a blatant lie”
Fashina, disclosed that some of the advantages the upgraded SONCAP portal offers are “A one-stop-shop that provides clients opportunity to apply, track application, send messages to SON and receive responses as well upload evidence of payments seamlessly”
“Profile of the work done and documents used for application are available on Clients’ dashboard. No more Tax Identification Number (TIN) error. No more mistakes in company name”
Fashina alluded to a recent challenge in transmitting approved and activated SONCAP certificates to the National trade portal which according to him was not peculiar to SON but all other trade related agencies from January 22, 2020.
He stated that the issue has since been rectified on the national trade portal and all pending SONCAP certificates transmitted to the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) portal as at February 1, 2020.
On the claim that imports were accumulating demurrage as a result of the gap, Fashina explained that the SONCAP is a pre-shipment process, stressing that only non-compliant importers, who apply for the certificates after the arrival of their consignments are crying foul.
He said some importers who brought in about 182 containers into the country without following the pre-shipment conformity assessment process are those trying to circumvent established procedure and crying wolf.
According to him, such consignments would naturally be subjected to scrutiny, seized if found to be substandard while those behind then would face prosecution.
He advised importers to follow the import procedures strictly by ensuring that they process their product and SONCAP certificates offshore rather than looking for short cuts after the consignments have arrived Nigeria.