By Naomi Uzor
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has stated that its Product Registration Certificate (PRC) is no longer required for clearing cargoes at the nation’s point of entry.
The Director General, SON, Osita Aboloma, explained that the new development was in line with the present administration’s ease of doing business mandate and would commence on the 1st, November, 2018.
The SON boss at a nationwide awareness programme to sensitise members of the Auto Spare Parts and Machinery Dealers Association (ASPMDA) in Lagos, on dangers of substandard products in circulation however stated that PRC is still part of its minimum requirements that has to be met by both importers and manufacturers of good, stressing that the removal from cargo clearance was to fast track cargo processes.
He said the PRC is a vital tool the agency uses for traceability and protecting an existing successful brand in Nigerian market against counterfeiters.
He stated the agency has also gone as far as reducing all its fees to encourage local producers while also attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDIs) into the country.
In his words, “The fight against the influx of substandard goods is continuous and as you can see, we have to bring the fight to the biggest market in West Africa. We are here to get the buy-in of importers and distributors in a bid to agree to work together as a team to curb the influx of substandard life-endangering auto spare parts into Nigeria.”
He appealed to importers and local manufacturers to comply with the minimum requirement of the Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS), restating the agency’s commitment to protect investments.
“The government is diversifying from a single product economy into other products, so we must encourage other sectors to grow, we must open up our doors to genuine foreign businesses and protect their investments. We are also calling on the public to report to SON whenever they see anything unwholesome. It is a win-win situation if people comply to standards because it will go a long way to boost consumer confidence and also increase the revenues of importers and manufacturers,” he said.
He said acknowledging the vital role technology plays in global trade and ensuring seamless business transactions, the standards body has automated its processes to facilitate trade in the nation’s maritime downstream sector.
Aboloma pointed out that automation would also eradicate the prevalence of human interface in businesses which he said would take touts out of business while also curbing corrupt practices by officials in different agencies.
He said with this move, the agency would also be creating an enabling environment for businesses to thrive while also protecting the lives of the unsuspecting Nigerian consumers.
“We are appealing to the operators in this industry to be forth coming in their declaration of goods so that they do not take advantage of the lacuna involved in the clearing processes. We are trying to fully automate our processes to make it seamless, this would help to tackle some of the corrupt practices operators experience at the ports. When you automate, you have less human interface, there will be no more need to patronise touts for accessing our services.
“According to him, “The fight against substandard goods starts from beyond the shores of Nigeria and that is why we have put SONCAP in place to verify the quality of products coming in. We still have to follow products that we suspect are substandard and even in the markets. Importers must insist on doing the right thing and imbibe the culture of standardisation and quality assurance so that people will have confidence in their products or services. Do the right thing to save cost and lives so that we can continually improve the lives of Nigerians through standards and quality assurance.”
Also speaking at the event, the president, ASPMDA, Daniel Offorkansi, said SON is vital in safeguarding the lives and property of Nigerians, saying that the association has set up a committee comprising of SON officials and ASPMDA members to combat the preponderance of fake and substandard goods in the country.
“We are ready to expose any member who indulges in the illicit trade of substandard goods to SON with the help of the committee. They are here to sensitise us about the importance of fighting against fake and substandard goods in the country and to us, we think is a welcome development because it will boost consumers’ confidence whenever they patronise us,” he said.
The Acting Director, Product Certification, SON Tersoo Orngudwem, said there are over 32 brand new laboratories in Nigeria available for testing and certifying products in the country, urging manufacturers and importers to feel free to bring their products for testing.
“We are appealing to manufacturers and importers to bring their products for testing. This is the only way we can boost the confidence of Nigerian consumers while also giving Nigeria a good image on the global map. Any product tested in Nigeria can be accepted anywhere in the world. We are also calling on you to protect your reputation as traders while also dealing with products that comply with international best practices,” he said.