FRANCIS EZEM

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the country’s apex product regulation bureau has said that there was no iota of truth in claims by some misguided importers and agents, who claimed that there was a breakdown of its Conformity Assessment Program SONCAP, which is the online platform for processing of SON regulated imports.

According to a statement from the office of the Director General, Osita Aboloma, the organisation insists that it is those importers who failed to comply with the SONCAP regulation, which is a pre-shipment process that are crying foul on accumulation of demurrage on their consignments, having failed to process their document before the arrival of the consignments.

The statement signed by the Head, Public Relations of the organisation, Bola Fashina reads in part: “We wish to debunk the claims by one Kayode Farinto over a purported collapse of its online application portal for the operation of the offshore Conformity Assessment Program SONCAP for processing of SON regulated imports into Nigeria, which is a blatant lie.

“The SONCAP portal was recently upgraded to ensure optimal performance, enhance a seamless operation and more efficient service delivery to customers and stakeholders alike. Some of the advantages the upgraded SONCAP portal offers include providing a one-stop-shop that affords clients opportunity to apply, track application, send messages to SON and receive responses as well upload evidence of payments seamlessly.

“It makes the profile of the work done and documents used for application available on clients’ dashboard, eliminates Tax Identification Number TIN error, eliminates mistakes in company name, among several other innovations and benefits”

While alluding to a recent challenge in transmitting approved and activated SONCAP certificates to the National trade portal, Fashina noted this challenge was not peculiar to SON but all other trade related agencies from January 22, 2020.

It was gathered that the issue has since been rectified on the national trade portal and all pending SONCAP certificates transmitted to the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System NICIS portal as at February 1, 2020.

On the claim that imports were accumulating demurrage as a result of the gap, Fashina explained that the SONCAP is a pre-shipment process, which ought to have been concluded before the arrival of the consignment, stressing that only non-compliant importers, who applied for the certificates after the arrival of their consignments are complaining.

“Some importers who brought in about 182 containers into the country without following the pre-shipment conformity assessment process are those trying to circumvent established procedure and crying wolf.

“Such consignments would naturally be subjected to scrutiny, seized if found to be substandard while those behind then would face prosecution”, the statement also said.

Fashina while insisting that compliant importers are not complaining, however advised all importers to follow the import procedures strictly by ensuring that they process their product and SONCAP certificates before the arrival of the consignments rather than looking for short cuts after the consignments have arrived Nigeria, which leads to delays.