We know what was obtainable at the port before the exit of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the other government agencies. We know what they want and that is why some of them still find it difficult to accept the fact that they are not supposed to be at the port. But that notwithstanding, SON has the right to ensure that people conform to standard but it is not the right thing to go to the highway to do that because they have warehouses. When we talk about standard, it has to be from the point of origin the goods are coming from. We should not allow the goods to come into the country and begin to run helter-skelter to intercept goods on the highway, it is not good. The SON’s DG has promised to look into that and I think it is the best practice.
It is welcome development and I know that can be achieved because the SON’s Director General has a listening ear. The idea of intercepting containers on the highway is not the best. If they integrate into the Customs NICIS platform according to him, they will know consignments that have complied with standards and where to intercept those that have not complied. That will also save time and cost of doing business for importers whose consignments have met with the standard requirement but were unduly delayed.
For example, if you want to export any goods to America and it was not certified by the American embassy here in Nigeria, they will not allow the goods to be exported talk less of getting to USA. So if SON can go ahead and do something like that, they will have less work in controlling sub-standard products imported into the country.
Intercepting containers on the highway is an uncivilised way of doing things because the importer that brings in sub-standard goods has warehouse the SON’s officials can trace him to rather than constituting nuisance on the highway. In as much as we are not in support of importers bringing in sub-standard products into the country, they can also trace the goods through their country of origin and that is how it is being done in other civilised nations. They don’t intercept containers on the highway.
We have the problem of gridlock and congestion already, so they should not add more by staying on the highway. They should intensify their effort by tracing sub-standard goods to their entry point and make sure there officers do not connive with importers to bring in such goods.
The Act establishing the Standard Organization of Nigeria empowers them to impound sub standard products and not to stop containers on the highway. It is a welcome development if they can partner with Customs so that they can identify products that do not have the SONCAP certificate even before they leave the port and stop impounding containers on the highway. That will show they are regulating according to the law.
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