SON blames substandard products influx on exit from seaports, borders
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the nation’s apex standards bureau, has voiced out its frustrations and helplessness even in the face of massive influx of fake and substandard products into the country.
The Federal Government had in 2011 ordered the organisation, among several others, which participate in cargo examination to leave the seaports as part of measures to reduce the delays associated with cargo release.
But it is arguable if this objective has been achieved as cargo dwell time, which is between 30-40 days has remained very high compared to between three-five days obtained elsewhere including some neighbouring African countries such as the Republic of Benin, Togo and Ghana.
Head, Public Relations Unit of the standards bureau, Mr. Bola Fashina, who made this disclosure in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday, said that in view of the current situation of things, the organisation is incapacitated to halt the seeming uncontrolled influx of fake and substandard goods into the country.
According to him, the eviction of the organisation from the entry points into the country including the seaports and borders where these goods needed to be tracked and possibly stopped the organisation is handicapped to a very large extent in curtailing these products from flooding the local markets.
It was further gathered that the thinking of the government then was that while SON operates from outside the ports and borders, the Nigeria Customs Service should invite operatives of the organisation whenever SON-regulated products are being inspected, which it never did, as officers of the service do alone, many of which they lack the competence and training to effectively do, hence the influx.
Investigations showed that it was in response to this predicament that organisation came up with the SON Conformity Assessment Programme SONCAP, which is a form of Pre-Shipment Inspection PSI, carried out offshore at the port of loading.
The image maker however hinted that the SONCAP, which was designed to ensure that products complied with international quality standards, has been compromised by most importers, which
“Operatives of the organisation can only participate in the inspection of cargo at the ports or border stations when they are invited by Customs but in a situation we are not invited, there is little or nothing we can do”, he said emphatically
He cited the recent interception of substandard tyres, saying that the inspection and certification of products offshore under the SONCAP regime would not have allowed the mode in which those tyres stuffed into one another were imported.
According to him, the certification only attested to the quality of the tyres under normal and proper storage and transportation, arguing that by stuffing tyres into one another, some became unnecessarily expanded and others unduly compressed.
Experts also say that such action would make the tyres vulnerable to bursts on slight contact, having been squeezed and weakened.
Recall that many local industries have closed shop due to the massive influx of these substandard products manufactured mostly in Asia, especially China.
This development has led to loss of jobs, thus worsening the high unemployment rate in the country with the attendant high rate of crimes in the country.
In addition to the ejection of the SON from the seaports and borders, the organisation is also faced with the challenge of poor funding and the attendant shortage of manpower
Unconfirmed reports show that the current staff strength of the organisation is about 1,000 members of staff while it requires not less than 10, 000 members of staff to cover the entire length and breadth of the country in terms of enforcing product standards.