Customs brokers in the maritime industry have raised alarm that more than N20 billion has been lost to the influx of sub-standard goods into the country in the last 10 years.
Speaking yesterday at a Maritime Stakeholders Sensitization Workshop organised by the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), President of Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Mr. Tony Nwabunike lamented that customs brokers and freight forwarders have lost over N20 billion naira to the influx of fake products that do not meet Nigeria Industrial Standard for products coming into the country.
He said, in addition to being injurious to the nation’s economy, importation of illicit products also spell doom for Nigerians.
He disclosed that ANLCA has taken it upon itself to educate importers on the need for compliance to safeguard lives and avoid losses emanating from seizures and destruction of fake and substandard goods.
“We have an unsung ethic of promoting standard and best practices across various areas in the course of carrying out our cargo clearing function at the seaports, airports and border stations.
“Over time, customs brokers have been victims of substandard importation by importers who, in some cases, failed to disclose to us the actual content or degree of compliance with extant rules like SON Conformity Assessment Programme(SONCAP).
“In view of copious challenges faced in our line of business, we have taken it upon ourselves to educate importers on the need for their compliance to safeguard lives and avoid losses emanating from seizures and destruction of fake and substandard goods.
“This task is daunting, but we are not relenting because customs brokers have suffered an estimated cumulative losses amounting to over N20b in the last ten years for undertaking to clear goods discovered to be substandard.
“Let me put it clearly, that upon seizure of suspected fake or substandard goods after payment of duty, it will be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for an importer, whose consignments were seized to pay you the balance of the agreed sum, even after the broker has spent his money on the logistics.
On his part, the Director General of the Standards Organization of Nigeria, SON, Osita Aboloma charged importers to desist from importing substandard products capable of maiming and killing Nigerians.
Aboloma who was represented by the Director, Inspector and Compliance Directorate; Engr Obiora Manafa also revealed that SON is not happy destroying people's product stating that there is need for importers to meet the required standard.
He stated that it is easier to prevent imported substandard products at the port than chasing after such products in markets and warehouses.
According to him, "SON is not out to get importers, we are only interested in safeguarding lives and properties of Nigerians. Importers should also endeavour to apply for their SONCAP certificate before the arrival of their products in Nigeria".
Aboloma also charged freight forwarding associations to sensitize their members to comply with the directives of the organization to ensure the safety of lives and properties.
Aboloma said, it requires security cover, logistics and surveillance to keep the anti-substandard goods battle up.