The Association of Nigerian Licensed Custom Agents (ANLCA) says its members have lost over N6 billion to demurrage in two months following inability to access the portal and process Standard Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP).
The Vice President of ANLCA; Mr Kayode Farinto, told newsmen of the loss in Lagos.
He said that since November 2019, his members had been having challenges in generating Pre Arrival Assessment Report (PAAR), which had been causing delay in cargo clearance.
Farinto said that processing of SONCAP was compulsory before customs could issue PAAR for final cargo clearance.
As stated on the SONCAP website, the objectives are for the wellbeing, health and safety of Nigerian consumers.
It is to ensure that regulated products comply with the Nigeria Industrial Standards (NIS) or approved standards prior to export to Nigeria.
SONCAP also provides a level playing field in terms of quality for both regulated and locally manufactured products in order to prevent unfair competition.
Farinto said: “The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), created a platform to obtain SONCAP which stands as a certificate of any regulatory items before getting PAAR.
“There is room for clearing agents to get their SONCAP offshore, and if that is not possible, there is a window created on customs platform called import permit which is created for Nigerian manufacturers to ease consignment clearance in the ports.
“Since November ending, it has been difficult for us to access SONCAP; after getting product certificate for Form” M”, you now generate SON code, that is the what you input into customs trade hub to get SONCAP.
“If SONCAP is not processed, customs will not issue PAAR.”
He said that the association made effort to get to the management of SON and they said they were upgrading their system.
The ANLCA VP urged the management of SON to look for an alternative to enable them access SONCAP, which he said was delaying his members and made them accumulate demurrage of up to N6billion.
He said that the SON idea to upgrade system was a welcome development to improve seamless operation.
Farinto said that if SON, however, refused to rectify the challenges facing the clearing agents, they would be forced to go to court by Feb. 7.
In his reaction, the Head of Public Relations of SON, Mr Bola Fashina, said there was no problem accessing SONCAP, as his management had just upgraded the platform.
He urged portal users to complain to the desk officers to enable them to know the challenges emanating from accessing SONCAP.