The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has debunked the claim by the National Vice President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr. Kayode Farinto over a purported collapse of its online application portal for the operation of the offshore Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) for processing of SON regulated imports into Nigeria describing it as a blatant lie.
A statement from the office of the Director General, Osita Aboloma stressed that rather, it is those importers who fail 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: 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, profile of the work done and documents used for application are available on clients’ dashboard, no more Tax Identification Number (TIN) error and 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, stressing 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 are those trying to circumvent established procedure and crying wolf.
According to him, such consignments would naturally be subjected to scrutiny, seized if found to be substandard while those behind them 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.
Recall that the National Vice President of ANLCA, Dr. Kayode Farinto had on Monday said that the Lagos ports comprising of Apapa and Tincan Island ports will in the next 24 hours to 72 hours be thrown into crisis following the inability of the freight forwarders to access the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) portal to process the SON Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) certificate to enable them clear goods at the ports.
Farinto who noted that there was total paralysis in the ports as a result of SON’s inability to rectify the problem with its system however claimed that the importers and their agents had lost over N6 billion in demurrages as a result the system breakdown even as he wondered why importers and their agents would be made to pay for SON’s ineptitude.
He said, “If this continues, I personally will not hesitate to encourage freight forwarders to go to court. This is because we are going to lose billions of naira as a result of this problem that is not the agents’ fault and don’t forget that most of us take this bill of lading before the arrival of the vessel to process documents. If you are unable to process PAAR, then the importer starts telling you that you are to pay demurrage. And I think the Nigeria Customs Service should also come up to give us a solution to this problem because everywhere in the whole world, Customs Service is always the lead agency. If the lead agency cannot tell us a solution, then I think we have a problem.”
Photo: Director General, SON, Mr. Osita Aboloma.
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