By Kenneth Jukpor
Freight forwarders have kicked against Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) move to return to the ports, admonishing the agency to prioritize destination inspection and improved online services.
While the regulatory agency argues that a position at the ports will enable it better carry out its obligations in ensuring only goods that meet requisite standards are imported, shippers and freight agents have urged SON to focus on destination inspection at the importers warehouses.
Last month, the Director General of Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Malam Farouk Salim, urged the Federal Government to allow the agency return to the nation’s ports.
Salim explained that the move would help the organisation to effectively check the influx of substandard products into the country as trading progresses under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The Director General’s call is coming after a decade of the eviction of several government agencies from the ports, following the proliferation of agencies at ports.
Speaking with MMS Plus, the President, Africa Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics of Nigeria (APFFLON), Mr. Frank Ogunojemite said SON should promote synergy with other agencies especially Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) via Single Window.
His words: “The world is at a stage where things are done online and seamlessly. In most ports around the world you hardly find people and Nigeria is trying to move forward with automation and Single Window. This desperate move by SON to go back to ports is uncalled for. There is no basis for that.”
According to him, if Nigerian ports hope to adopt international best standards instead of creating more avenues for exploitation, all port operations should be electronic and seamless.
Ogunojemite also admonished SON to track cargoes to importers’ warehouses rather than intercepting them on the roads, lamenting that such interception has become a major impediment to free flow of cargoes already cleared at ports.
“Nigeria should prioritize the recommendations of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) when it visited Nigerian ports for its 2020 Economic Outlook and stated the Single Window and port access where the major factors to be addressed in order to place the country among the echelon comity of maritime nations,” he added.
He equally noted that with Nigeria’s signing of the AfCFTA, the government should consult widely before taking decisions on standards, while SON should be promoting MANCAP rather than agitating to be stationed at the ports.
Also speaking, a former President of the National Association of Government Approved Freighy Forwarders (NAGAFF), Chief Eugene Nweke condemned SON’s proposal to return to the seaports.
Nweke argued that the ports currently has too many agencies and facing a dire need for trimming, admonishing SON to key into the government’s efforts in automation and Single Window.