SON set to return to seaports 11 years after…Consults NPA, Customs
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria SON, the country’s apex standards bureau is concluding plans to return to the seaports for the purposes of inspecting and vetting goods for import and export after 11 years of eviction from the seaports, which barred its officers from participating in cargo examination.
This is sequel to a provisional approval granted by the Federal Government last month for it to return to the seaports, especially for imported cargo examination as part of measures to curtail the influx of fake and substandard goods into the country as well as illegal importation of light weapons and ammunitions, with the attendant worsening insecurity.
Recall that the Presidency had last month granted a provisional approval to the agency to return to the ports, which might be reversed within a time frame if it was discovered that the activities of the agency in anyway inhibited the free flow of goods in and out of the seaports.
A top official of the agency, who confirmed that the Presidency has granted a provisional approval for its officers to return to the seaports to inspect cargo, also disclosed that the agency has commenced consultations with key agencies and stakeholders operating to enhance a harmonious relationship.
The source noted that specifically, the agency is currently consulting with the Nigerian Ports Authority NPA as the landlord of the other agencies and also with the management of the Nigeria Customs Service, being the lead agency in cargo inspection, which will also work directly with the SON officials.
According to the source, such consultations and fine- tuning of some operational modalities with the Customs became very necessary since the service is required by the recent provisional approval to link the SON with its Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System NICIS II platform to enable the operatives view all import documentations even before the arrival of the consignments.
It was further gathered that the government became very worried over the influx of illegal items into the country especially arms and ammunitions even after the closure of some land borders with neighbouring countries to checkmate such illegal importations.
Another source also hinted that some members of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria MAN had to add its voice to the calls on the Federal Government to allow the SON to return to the seaports to check the seeming uncontrolled influx of fake and substandard goods from Asia, especially, China, which has dealt a deadly blow on the local industry.
“Over the years, the government seemed to have paid more attention on revenue generation by Customs, even though the country needs such revenue to build infrastructure and carry out other developmental policies and programmes. But the government also needs to create jobs by ensuring that the manufacturing sector, which is currently suffocating under the huge weight of this influx and other operational challenges is sustained.
“Now the government has come to the realisation that it needs to strike a balance between revenue generation and creation of employment in the country and none should be sacrificed at the altar of the other since both are needed for the overall survival of the national economy”, the source further argued.
Recall that the former Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had in 2011 announced the eviction of some agencies from operating within the seaports, including the SON as part of measures to streamline the number of the agencies to avoid duplication and delays in cargo clearance.