15 January 2013

Nigeria: SON Shuts Chinese Warehouse Over Substandard Aluminium Coils

The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has shut down a warehouse belonging to Chinese company Threefriends International, located in Ojo area of Lagos state, for non-conformity with their imported Aluminium coils with acceptable standards in the country.

The Head of Inspectorate and Compliance, SON, Mr. Bede Obayi, explained that the move by the agency was to send a warning signal to unscrupulous importers and manufacturers in the aluminum industry that Nigeria is not a place for business as usual, noting that SON would not relent on its oars until it rids the country of substandard products.

In an inspection exercise with aluminium stakeholders to enforce compliance in Lagos, Obayi said the warehouse would remain sealed because it had failed to meet the minimum requirement standard of the Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS) which is put at 0.4 millimetres. He said the company used quality plain coil of about four layers to cover low gauges coated coils.

Investigation revealed that the variation of duty between plain and coated coil encourages the unscrupulous importers to indulge in sharp practices to evade duty.

In his words, "We are here with the task force and aluminium stakeholders. It is our routine function to go from one company to another to ensure they comply with the directives given to us in 2010 to conform to the minimum requirement of the Nigeria Industrial Standard for aluminium roofing sheets which is NIS 487 and 486 of 2010."

According to him, SON would seize any aluminium roofing sheet that falls below 0.4 millimetres and also appealed to Nigerians to give relevant information should they suspect any company or individual involved in illicit businesses.

"We rely on information because this is the only way we can reach your calls. We are going round the country because it is a nationwide exercise; we are moving from one state to the other and from one warehouse to the other," he said.

"This is the beginning of 2013 and we need to ensure that the order given to importers and manufacturers in 2010 is complied with throughout the whole country. We are going to the east, the west and every other part of this country. We are calling on Nigerians to let us know when they suspect any roofing aluminium sheets that are substandard, they should call on us immediately, because we must ensure that the quality of the product is maintained," he added.

"We should be mindful of the fact that what the consumers want is commensurate with the value of products they are getting so that the consumer is not cheated," he said.

In another enforcement exercise, SON and the aluminium stakeholders went to Bozac Continental, a leading importer of aluminium coils and commended Bozac for meeting the minimum requirement for aluminium roofing sheets in the country.

Obayi said this was the way to go if Nigerian importers and manufacturers want any development in the country. "We have gone through the factory to inspect close to about 500 aluminium coils in the factory and took random samples and we are impressed with the standards, they all met the minimum requirements," he said.

He therefore called on other importers and manufacturers to emulate Bozac continental, maintaining that this was the only way Nigeria could combat substandard products in the country.

"All we have to do now is talk to the management of Bozac continental and other importers about labelling to ensure that what is given by the manufacturers is what the consumers get.

What we have seen in the measurement is that the minimum standards have been complied with. e have seen situations where these perpetrators went down to 0.26mm that is as light a writing pad and during rainy seasons they fall of with the impact of a small wind. We are also looking at the colour because whatever colour you buy must the same colour after three months, one year. We have occasions where things like this happen and it must stop," he stressed.

The Director, Bozac Continental, Mr. Okechukwu Anolue, expressed happiness with the visit of SON, noting that manufacturers and importers are working together with Nigeria.

He assured SON of his cooperation, saying that he would alert other importers and manufacturers alike to give the agency the necessary information needed to battle the menace of substandard products in the country.

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