…Say SON Absence in Cargo Examination Triggering High Import of Substandard Products
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Stakeholders in the freight forwarding subsection of the maritime industry have lamented that influx of substandard products into Nigeria is due to the absence of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) at the ports to partake in cargo examination.
This view was expressed in Lagos on Thursday during a maritime stakeholders sensitisation forum in Apapa with the theme: “Standards Save Lives, Grow Economy,”
Leading the pack of stakeholders to advocate for SON’s return to the seaports, Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto said that if the country must win the war against the importation of sub-standard goods, there is a need to return SON back to the seaports.
Farinto while delivering a topic: “Juxtaposing Substandard Imports; SON’s Absence At Seaport,” informed that despite the fact that SON has vacated the ports about a few years ago, the increase in the imports of sub-standard goods and the effort of some nonconformist has shown that there is need to reverse the executive decision if the nation must win the war against the importation of sub-standard goods in the country.
The ANLCA Acting President noted that if the trend is not arrested urgently by providing a solution, then it may affect the economy and dwindle the nation’s income drastically. He stressed that the absence of SON as a regulatory Agency in the ports encourages the importation and smuggling of Sub-standard products.
“If we must achieve ease of doing business, then freight forwarders, Licensed Customs Brokers, should do away with dishonesty in their declarations in order to circumvent the procedures, which impedes ease of doing business,” the ANLCA Acting President stated.
On his part the President of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) Chief Tochukwu Ezisi who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Rev. Emma Agunbaze urged SON to engage stakeholders more.
He further said stakeholders’ engagement will further ensure proper consideration of interests while commending SON for embracing the ease of doing business in the country.
The Director-General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim earlier in his welcome address said that the importation of substandard goods is responsible for the high rate of insecurity in the country.
The SON DG said that Nigeria cannot survive with the influx of substandard goods imported into the country, adding that substandard goods are killing the nation’s economy.
He said when people bring in substandard or prohibited products even when such person has $10 billion, there are criminals, bandits and cultists who may collect such products from them.
According to the SON DG, “The reason for this gathering is to make sure that we try to sensitize each other in what we look out for. When we take any product as substandard, we are not here to spoil anybody’s products. We are doing it to protect your business and the people that buy the products.
“In other climes, when you buy a product and sell it to the public and the public get injured or they don’t get satisfaction with the product, the seller would get sued. When you get sued, you lose a lot of money, sometimes, you may land in jail.
“In Nigeria, we have to develop to that level. We have the laws but we have not developed to the level where some will go and buy substandard cable and sell it to Nigerians and get jailed for that.”
He added that in Nigeria, nobody tracks the sellers of such product, or arrest such person, and charge them with manslaughter.
He urged the stakeholders to engage genuine businessmen in bringing quality products into the country, adding that if substandard goods continue to come into the country, the local manufacturers and industries would be destroyed.
Salim noted that the essence of the sensitization with stakeholders is to communicate and share views on how to make businesses more efficient.