Nigeria: Shipping Industry Operators Rally Support for SON

19 February 2020

The leadership of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA, has pledged to partner with the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, in ensuring that Customs agents do not act in breach of the agency's operational regulations.

National President of ANLCA, Hon. Tony Nwabunike, who led the leaders to a courtesy visit to SON told the Director General of the agency, Dr. Osita Aboloma, that ANLCA members will get further sensitization on the operations and guidelines of the agency with a view to improving compliance.

The visit which was aimed to discuss operational matters and way forward based on existing relationship, according to ANLCA, will open a new chapter of positive relationship between the two organisations.

In a chat with Vanguard Maritime Report, Nwabunike said, "SON is a very important arm of government in the regulation and monitoring of standards of imported items. They have so much to do but we believe that they need more support from the federal government in carrying out their duty. They engage in research, do laboratory and forensic analysis, do different evaluation and you know, some of the laboratories are not 100 percent ready and functional. Sensitive agencies of government like SON should not manage; they should have everything they need to work. We plan to take the campaign to government to empower them for their jobs."

Meanwhile, the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders, NAGAFF, has challenged the freight and customs brokerage industry to shun acts capable of rubbishing the image and integrity of SON, alleging that "most times, people accusing the agency of this or that are just trying to cut corners."

NAGAFF also called on the federal government to provide needed funds to conclude the agency's Engineering Laboratory located in Enugu and make it functional.

Speaking further on issues that they believe will strengthen SON to perform optimally, the legal adviser of NAGAFF, Barr. Fred Akhokia argued that the agency will achieve much more if "There are many issues concerning SON which the FG has failed to address. SON can do much more if they are allowed to reside inside the port; we are talking about real monitoring. Then their engineering laboratory should be completed, they need to upgrade in their analysis. The laboratory is there, release funds for its completion and put the place to use," he added.

... Says online portal collapse untrue

Meanwhile, SON has provided further insight into what it termed a false and misleading alarm raised by some clearing agents on the purported collapse of its Offshore Conformity Assessment Programme, an online application portal.

SON's Head of Corporate Affairs, Bola Fashina, said those behind the false alarm are customs brokers working for importers who brought in about 120 containers of imports without SONCAP clearance, and who felt that the quickest way to wriggle out of the difficulties associated with the belated procedure was to blackmail SON.

It will be recalled that some freight forwarders, including the Vice President of the Association of Nigeria Lisenced Customs Agents, ANLCA, Mr. Kayode Farinto, last week raised alarm over rising demurrhages and additional cost in cargo clearance process, linked to purported delay in SONCAP administration.

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