Home News Sampling: SON Debunk Allegation of Cargo Stealing by Importers                        …says most product becomes worthless after test process.

Sampling: SON Debunk Allegation of Cargo Stealing by Importers                        …says most product becomes worthless after test process.

by timenews
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Pearl Ngwama

The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has debunked an allegation
leveled against it by the freight forwarders and importers in the Nigerian
Maritime Sector that its officials takes away
their cargo in the name of sampling.

Freight forwarders and importers under various umbrella had lamented
that agencies in the Port including SON takes as much as four or more
items from their consignment as samples for test to ascertain the
credibility and standard for use in the Country.

The importers maintained that often than not, these samples were not
returned to them contrary to the agreement which according to them
was equal to stealing.
They added these agencies’ officers still stop them on their way to
the warehouse after they had been cleared at the Port under the
disguise of Federal Operation Unit (FOU) and make them pay for what
they had earlier paid for before clearance to leave the Port.However, Director Inspectorate & Compliance Department, SON, Engr. Obi
Manafa, in an exclusive interview with Time NewsNewsreporter noted SON derives its
mandate from the Act that established it and wondered why people must
raise such a complaint in the first place.

He said that SON must sample in order to test and that it documents
its sampling, and challenged the freight forwarders and
importers to report to SON’s management any of its officers that
samples without documenting it.Manafa explained that the issue of returning the items (cargoes) used
for sampling was not always feasible because so many of the samples
were subjected to several tests which may be prolonged for weeks or
even months like in the case of endurance tests and at times may not be
useable.

He added that there were also destructive tests after which the samples
were discarded,  like gas cylinders which burst in the process of
testing.His words: “I don’t know why the complaint will be there in the first
place because we derive our mandate from the Act that established SON.
We cannot test a product without sampling it; SON must sample in order
to test and when we sample, we document it. When you see an officer
collecting sample without documenting, report the person to us. The
sample goes to the officer for test.
“The issue of not returning; so many of them are subjected to several
tests like endurance test (life cycle test), you prolong the test for
weeks even for months. There are also destructive tests which we test
and discard; like gas cylinders we burst them. Many of the samples are
even used over a long period of time to test the standard of the
product.
“There are some products you do not sample while some products we will
tell the importer to bring three to four samples because the
laboratory requires a minimum number of the items. For example;
electric bulbs take time, they stay on the testing rig for months to
see how the product will behave over a long period of time. But people
don’t know all these and they complain.
“At the end of the test, if the product is not good, we either destroy
it or give the importers the option of carrying out a corrective
action to bring it to normal on their own bill and they will still pay
the fine attached to importing substandard goods. For you to bring in
substandard product is punishable, so you must pay fine.”

Manafa pointed out that most of the items in the warehouse are yet to be destroyed
because SON had to first get a court order. “You can’t destroy
anybody’s product without a court order so if you go to our ware house
you’ll see a lot of products waiting for court order before
destruction,” he explainedOn SON’s sensitization program, Manafa disclosed that there had been tremendous impact as
great improvement had been noted especially with the importers because
the level of compliance among them was increasing.

According to him, the importers prior to this time were not aware of
the importance of creating their own brand. “We told them that the
issue of counterfeit; faking other people’s product has no benefit in
it, so at times, we get these products and they are fake and we destroy
them. So we told them that the best thing to do is to create their own
brand and ensure their product are of standard, we register them on
their own brand name and overtime, people will start patronising them,”
he said.Manafa commenting on the recent series of seizures carried out by SON,
disclosed that a brand of Total Engine oil was found in the market
without testing by the Agency and the masses were alerted not to
buy the product.

He also disclosed that some gas cylinders were seized while two people

jailed for adulterated engine oil.

“As far as it did not pass through us, it is substandard; no SONCAP and
no registration, so we alerted Nigerians not to buy it.
“Also gas cylinders and electric cables were seized; all these are in
our warehouse in various stages of laboratory testing and we’re also
waiting for court order before we can destroy those that need to be
destroyed.
“We also have a good case of adulteration of engine oil locally;
people were mixing engine oils and pouring them into notable brands,
the main (culprit) is still in detention; we’ll file his case soon.
“Then two people were convicted and jailed for adulteration of engine
oil too. They were jailed two years at the Federal High Court in
Lagos,” he stated.Speaking further, the SON Director commended the establishment of the 100 per
cent Compliance Team recently inaugurated by the National Association
of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF), describing it as a
welcome development, stressing that everyone should strive to adhere to the
Federal Government policy of Ease of Doing Business.
“The NAGAFF Compliance Team is a good thing because it is good to
sanitise the system. We should try as much as possible to let the
government Ease of Doing Business work. People should do the right
thing, so it’s a welcome development for NAGAFF to start that and
anywhere they want us to work with them, we’re ready,” he said.

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