Clearing agents and stakeholders in the organized private sector operating at the Lagos ports have demanded for the reversal of the Federal Executive decision banning the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) from the ports.
Recall that the Federal Government Executive Order on Ease of Doing Business had restricted SON and some agencies of government to operate from outside the ports, while allowing only eight agencies to remain in the ports.
But worried by the influx of fake and substandard goods in the country, importers and clearing agents rose at the end of a stakeholders meeting to call for the return of SON to the seaports.
Speaking on Thursday during a stakeholders’ sensitization forum with the theme “Standards Save Lives Grow Economy” the Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Kayode Farinto noted that if the country must win the war against importation of sub-standard goods in the country, there is need to return SON back to the seaports.
Farinto while delivering a topic ‘Juxtaposing the Absence of SON from the Seaport and the Worsening Influx of Substandard Products’ noted that SON vacated the seaports about few years ago, with the intention of the government to allow the agency do the role of regulation outside the ports.
He, however, said with the influx of sub-standard goods there is need to reverse the executive decision if the nation must win the war against importation of sub-standard goods in the country.
Farinto said 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 importation and smuggling of sub-standard products.
“SON was asked to leave the seaport due to the erroneous belief that it would enhance speed and efficiency in the inspection and release of cargo but current realities have shown that the belief was not true and needs a review. Therefore, if Nigeria must win this war against sub-standard products, SON must as a matter of urgency return to the seaports to enforce government’s control. SON should also be on the portal of the Nigeria Customs Service,” he argued.
On his part the President of 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 noting that engaging with stakeholders is key to improving accountability within the organization as well as external audiences.
He added that stakeholder’s engagement will further ensure proper consideration of interests while commending SON for embracing the ease of doing business in the country.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Director General of SON, Mallam Farouk Salim lamented that in Nigeria, no one is tracking importer of substandard goods.
Salim noted that the essence of the sensitization with stakeholders is to communicate and share views on how to make businesses more efficient.
He attributed the high rate of insecurity in the country to the importation of substandard goods.
“They allow us once in a while to check goods but that should not be the way, because SON as an organisation should not depend on the kindness of other organisations to do its work.
“The 2015 Act, Section 7(30b) says the Standard organisation must be at the port of entry into this country,” he said.