SON’s Planned Return to Port Meet Stakeholders Rejection

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CEM REPORT | Maritime stakeholders has strongly kicked against Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) planned return to the seaport.

The stakeholders who said SON’s return to the seaports will drag Nigeria down the ladder in the Ease of Doing Business (EODB) ranking.

The Director-General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, had recently sought the return of SON to the ports, claiming that it would strengthen its regulatory capacity to cub  and the influx of injurious goods into the country.

Stakeholders who stand against SON’s return to seaports arguing that rather than seeking a return to the seaports, the agency should strike a balance between regulatory obligations and revenue collection.

Guardian reports that a former President, of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), Dr Eugene Nweke, said SON’s non-participation in physical examination in the port has little or nothing to do with the influx of the substandard goods into the ports.

He also added that, “It is important to state categorically that times have changed and our industry no longer thrives in the darkness of hidden trade information.”

According to him, SON’s greatest challenge stems from its lack of regulatory control over the shipping lines, which it needed to corporately checkmate the trading public.

Nweke explained that the reason sub-standard cargoes were not shipped to neighboring countries, is that shipping companies were penalised for bringing in substandard cargoes.

He emphasised that Nigeria must have a national shipping policy that must be obeyed by foreign shipping lines wishing to do business in the country.

Segun Musa, Managing Director, Widescope International Logistics Limited, expressed severe concern over clearing agents calling for the return of SON to seaports, saying they may have been compromised.

It is obvious that not everyone that claims to be stakeholders are truly stakeholders but some are only interested in satisfying their pockets. I was surprised to read that some stakeholders gathered to endorse the return of SON to the ports and it is obvious that those involved are most likely to have either collected bribes to compromise or are new in the industry.

“For every critical stakeholder in the industry that has been around for over 10 years, such person would easily remember why we agitated for the removal of SON, NAFDAC and other multiple agencies whose roles in the ports were to frustrate cargo clearance and trade facilitation. This should not come at a time Nigeria is improving in the EODB ranking.

Musa said, SON and some other agencies sacked from the seaports in 2011 were frustrating cargo clearance procedures.

He further said 21st century cargo clearance is digitalised and automated worldwide.

Recall that, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had launched the National Action Plan on Ease of Doing Business to improve Nigeria’s ranking on the EODB. The initiative sacked several agencies of government from the seaports. The agencies sacked include Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON); Port Quarantine Services; National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC); Nigeria Agricultural Quarantine Service (NAQS); National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency (NESREA) and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA), among others.

However, SON has been lobbying stakeholders to return to the ports, saying the country should be saved from the importation of substandard products.

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