The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) says it is collaborating with stakeholders in the maritime sector in new moves to tackle the importation of substandard products into the country.
Part of the new initiatives are the use of an e-platform and the integration of SON services and certificates into the Nigeria Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS).
Under the new arrangement, e-product certificate and SON Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) certificate will be tied to the relevant processes for the generation of form ‘M’ and generation of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR) for clearance of goods at the nation’s seaports.
SON’s head, Inspectorate and Compliance Directorate, Bede Obayi, said the initiative is also designed to discourage human contact, save time and resources and facilitate trade generally. He said that based on the new SON Act, which gives the agency power to prosecute offenders, “all hands are now on deck to protect the nation from the importation of substandard products”.
“What we as an organisation have done concerning development on the trade portal and NICIS covers critical areas such as: itemising HS codes of products regulated by SON for the public to easily confirm if a product is SON’s regulated or not; and providing list of SON’s documentation requirement before approval can be granted for a regulated product to be imported into Nigeria; converting all SON certificates/documents required for importation of regulated products to electronic format,” he said.
According to him, under the new system, online and real-time means of transmitting the certificates to the trade portal/NICIS by consignee, with e-Product Certificate for processing Form ‘M’ and e-SONCAP Certificate for processing PAAR using any device such as phones, tablets or personal computers at any convenient location have been provided.
“This makes processing of Form ‘M’ easier as importers with valid e-certificate can simply attach the certificate to their form when processing Form ‘M’ at the comfort of the person’s office, eliminating direct contact,” he said. “We have also set up a Customer/Consumer Helpdesk at Apapa, Lagos and Abuja.”
He said the system provide easy access to information on products regulated by SON, adding that consignees can confirm if a product is regulated by SON through any online platform.
The process, according to him, ensures that all documents submitted into NICIS have been reviewed and verified by SON, “thus eliminating documentary fraud. No need for double-checking”.
“We, therefore, use this opportunity to let all and sundry know that the era of shoddy deals and undercover transactions is over,” he said. “Transparency and openness are the watchwords. If you were doing the right thing, regulatory agencies such as SON would help your business to grow. However, those who like to manipulate the system and get away with it, should know that there are now roadblocks and checkpoints; it is no longer business as usual.”
Source: Daily Times Nigeria