The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has debunked the allegation about the purported collapse of its online application portal for the operation of the offshore Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) for processing of regulated imports into the country, describing it as a blatant lie.
A statement from the office of the Director General, Osita Aboloma, stressed that rather, it was importers who failed to comply with the pre-shipment process who are crying wolf on accumulation of demmurage on their consignments. According to the statement signed by the Head, Public Relations, SON, Bola Fashina, the portal was recently upgraded to ensure optimal performance, enhance a seamless operation and more efficient service delivery to customers and stakeholders alike.
Fashina, disclosed that some of the advantages the upgraded SONCAP portal offers are that it is a one-stop-shop that provides clients opportunity to apply, track application, send messages to SON and receive responses as well upload evidence of payments seamlessly. Furthermore, it provides the profile of the work done and documents used for application are available on clients' dashboard, adding that there are no more Tax Identification Number (TIN) error, no more mistakes in company name, among others.
Fashina alluded to a recent challenge in transmitting approved and activated SONCAP certificates to the National trade portal which according to him was not peculiar to SON but all other trade related agencies from January 22, 2020.
He stated that the issue has since been rectified on the national trade portal and all pending SONCAP certificates transmitted to the Nigerian Integrated Customs Information System (NICIS) portal as at February 1, 2020.
On the claim that imports were accumulating demurrage as a result of the gap, Fashina explained that the SONCAP is a pre-shipment process, saying that only non-compliant importers, who apply for the certificates after the arrival of their consignments are crying foul. He said some importers who brought in about 182 containers into the country without following the pre-shipment conformity assessment process were those trying to circumvent established procedure and crying wolf.
According to him, such consignments would naturally be subjected to scrutiny, and seized if found to be substandard while those behind then would face prosecution.
He advised importers to follow the import procedures strictly by ensuring that they process their product and SONCAP certificates offshore rather than looking for short cuts after the consignments have arrived Nigeria.