In a collaborative effort to end the influx of substandard  imports, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has put in place series of Nationwide Awareness Programme for Maritime Operators in conjunction with the Association of Nigerian Custom Licensed Agents (ANCLA) and National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) with the theme; “Stakeholders Collaboration as a Tool For Zero Substandard Imports”.

Speaking at the forum in Port Harcourt, the Director General, SON represented by the Director Inspectorate and Compliance  (ICD), Engr. Obiora Manafa, stated that there is no better way to sensitize the industry than to collaborate with key players who have direct dealings with the importers.

According to him, 80% of Nigerian imports come through the seaports and waterways and it will therefore be difficult to ignore the maritime sector operators in the quest for zero import of substandard and unwholesome products in furtherance of the Federal Governments Ease of Doing Business initiative.

SON’s collaboration with sectorial operators and stakeholders would help to spread the message in the drive towards zero tolerance for substandard, fake and counterfeit products, he said.

Aboloma further described the forum as an avenue for adequate stakeholders’ enlightenment on SON’s regulatory tools and requirements and to disabuse their minds of negative issues relating to the Organisation’s enforcement of quality and regulations.

He said heads of various activities and departments were on hand to interact with participants on SON’s processes and innovations for importation and clearing of goods at the ports and borders.

The DG stated that SON’s processes and procedure for imports and clearing such as the e-clearance, e-demand note, e-receipt and other electronic mechanisms have become innovative to make them seamless, with reduced human interface and encumbrances, for a more efficient service delivery and quicker turnaround time.

He pointed out that SON’s far reaching regulatory provisions under Act 14 of 2015 from pre-shipment, to warehouses, shops and markets, gives it power to arrest and prosecute importers and dealers in substandard goods in Nigeria. ”SON’s continued advocacy is to reduce substantially, seizure and destruction of goods, which are injurious to human lives, amount to large economic and financial losses and a threat to our environment. Our greatest challenge with cargo clearance is that of false declaration by clearing agents”, he said.

The SON Chief Executive appealed to the stakeholders to desist from false declaration, stressing that measures are in place to intercept such sharp practices and prosecute culprits.

In his goodwill message, Chairman Board of Trustees, NAGGAFF, Chief Henry Njoku commended SON for creating an enabling interactive atmosphere and giving participants a sense of belonging. “This will go a long way in clearing lingering issues and also  properly  informing members of the association on the need to spread the information amongst clearing agents on doing things right”, he said.

Also contributing, Vice President ANCLA, Dr. Collins Fasoranti, affirmed ANCLA’s readiness to work with SON in ridding the nation of substandard products, stating that improper documentation and false declaration are an anathema to the nation’s economy.

The awareness programme which is expected to be replicated around the geopolitical zones of the country for maximum impact, had representation from the Nigerian Customs Service, Nigerian Shippers Council, major Clearing Agents Associations, SON staff and members of the general public.

Cross section of the participant

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