By Felix Khanoba
The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has lashed out on pre-shipment non-compliant importers that are blaming the organisation for accumulation of demurrage on their consignments.
A statement from the office of Director General of SON, Barr. Osita Aboloma, debunked claim of a purported collapse of SON’s online application portal for the operation of the offshore Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) for processing of regulated imports.
According to the statement which was signed by the Head, Public Relations, SON, Mr Bola Fashina, the portal was recently upgraded to ensure optimal performance and more efficient service delivery to clients.
“It is those importers who fail to comply with the pre-shipment process who are crying wolf on accumulation of demurrage on their consignments,” the statement posited.
The statement revealed that some of the advantages the upgraded SONCAP portal offers include 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.
Others are; profile of the work done and documents used for application are available on clients’ dashboard, no more Tax Identification Number (TIN) and mistakes in company name errors.
SON alluded to a recent challenge in transmitting approved and activated SONCAP certificates to the national trade portal, which was not peculiar to the Organisation, but all other trade related agencies from January 22, 2020.
The statement said 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 of February 1, 2020.
On the claim that imports were accumulating demurrage as a result of the gap, the statement 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.
According to SON, 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 the agency, such consignments would naturally be subjected to scrutiny, seized if found to be substandard while those behind then would face prosecution.
The Organisation therefore advised importers to follow the import procedures strictly by ensuring that they process their product and SONCAP certification offshore rather than looking for short cuts after the consignments have arrived Nigeria.