Ease of Doing Business: SON Partners with ANLCA, Alaba Market Importers on Standards

In its deliberate bid to enhance actualization of the Federal Government’s Ease of Doing Business initiative and ensure that all goods coming into Nigeria meet the stipulated minimum industrial standard of Nigeria, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), has entered into partnership with relevant stakeholders in international trade and importation of goods into the country.

The partnership is targeted at enlightening the stakeholders on the need to ensure that the activities of their members in the area of importation and clearing of goods at the ports conform to laid down rules and procedures set by the organisation.

Prominent among the stake holders who sealed their partnership with SON were the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) and members of the Alaba International Market Electronic Importers.

Addressing the stakeholders at the SON Operational Headquarters, Lekki, Lagos, the Director General, Osita Aboloma informed the stakeholders of SON’s efforts at further facilitating interactions with them through upgrading of its automated operations in order to serve them better.

“Automation will reduce human interference, reduce rent seeking, make our services easier to access, reduce turn-around time in order to serve you better. automation is the alternative to anarchy”, he said.

Aboloma stated that the SON automation process which is in phases is flawless and reduces the turn-around time for clearing of goods at the ports and border posts. “There is automation in respect to product registration, pre-shipment documents, that is SONCAP. Stakeholders are advised to adhere to the step by step processes laid down by SON in goods importation and clearing”.

“This is what you do first. You get our document, our conformity assessment certifications before you ship your goods to Nigeria. The product certificate must be obtained after before the product is shipped to Nigeria, it is not a clearing documents per say so when somebody deliberately misinforms you that he incurred demurrage because of SONCAP, because you cannot even ship your product to Nigeria without securing your product certification. It makes process of clearing simple without compromising quality of goods that come into the country”, he explained.

On quality of goods, especially electronic products sold in Alaba International Market Lagos, the SON Director General, said through the partnership, he has given the traders benefit of doubt to do the right things.

He noted that though they entered into the partnership as an association, but that he was aware that coming under association does not exonerate individuals from willful or deliberate attempt to reduce the quality of products that are sold to unsuspecting Nigerians.

He said going forward, SON, would hold them collectively and individually liable for non-conformity to Nigerian Industrial standards.

“We just raised the bar and we have informed them accordingly that it is no longer business as usual because we consider most products that are selling at Alaba market as life threatening and anything that falls short of international best practice of minimum Nigerian industrial standard, we will seriously find out”.

He informed members of ANLCA, that the SON automation process is for smooth operation at the ports.

The SON Director General challenged members of the Alaba International Electronic Dealers Association embrace self-regulation and become standards ambassadors with a view to returning the market to its past glory.

Aboloma encouraged them to develop individual brands and register them with SON appropriately rather than faking of established brands and putting the huge investments of others at risk. He assured them of SON protection for all registered brands urging the Traders to take advantage of the SON electronic product registration platform from the comfort of their offices and homes to eliminate middlemen and rent seeking.

He then proposed a re-awakening of the joint task force between SON and the association to rid the market of substandard products, while inviting them to join SON in the sensitization of their members as well as electronics dealers in other markets across the country.

Responding, National President of ANLCA, Iju Anthony Nwabunike, said practical achievement of the Federal Government’s ease of doing business initiative was the main reason his group entered into the partnership with SON.

“Ease of doing business is our reason for this partnership with SON. For us, seeing a situation where every government agency and stakeholders like us work in tandem to that level and achieve that result that is why we are here”.

He said custom licensed agents want to partner with all government agencies in the port so that they can facilitate trade and achieve the purpose of launching the ease of doing business initiative.

Nwabunike noted that automation of systems by the SON is upgrading of its standard, adding that it has helped the organisation to perform better but that all that the stakeholders need to do is to have patience and see everything work perfectly in the nearest future.

Chairman of the Electronics Section of the Alaba International Market, Paulinus Ugochukwu assured SON of the preparedness of its members to imbibe self-regulation as a tool of fighting substandard products distribution in the market under the new executives.

According to him it has not been business as usual since he assumed leadership of the association, promising that his executive was determined to return the section to its glory days when most countries across Africa rely on the Alaba International market for supply of quality electronics products.

He commended the SON management for its continuous guidance and urged electronics dealers to take the courage to establish their own brands, stressing that many local brands are already competing effectively in the market with foreign brands.

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