…says only FG, not NASS can return SON to seaports
A return of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to the seaports will hinder the ease of doing business initiative of the Nigerian government at the ports, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has cautioned.
SON is one of the eight agencies of the federal government of Nigeria sacked from the seaports by the then minister of finance and coordinating minister of the economy in August 2011, following complaints of multiple charges, red tapism and delay in cargo delivery processes at the country’s seaports.
The affected agencies, which also includes NAFDAC and NDLEA were directed to leave the port environment and to only come into the port on invitation by the Nigeria Customs Service to inspect suspected importations. The step was necessary to eliminate delay in the import clearing process and reduce cargo dwell time, the minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala had said.
Recently, the SON activated deliberate action plans which involved lobbying of the House of Representatives and some associations of Customs brokers and freight forwarders to return to the seaport.
It claimed that not maintaining a permanent presence at the ports was hampering its ability to monitor and check influx of imported sub standard products into the country.
However, while submitting that it does not have the powers to determine which agencies of government should have a permanent base at the seaports, the NPA said SON’s move to return to the port was not necessary as the Customs always invite the organsation to inspected importations suspected to be substandard.
The seaports landlord maintained that return of SON to the seaport would be counter productive to efforts by the federal government to install seamless trade at the ports, including the ease of doing business policy.
“We have no control over which agencies of government should be at the ports, because it is the prerogative of the federal government. When we had lots of issues with delay of cargo at the ports in 2011, we wrote to the federal government to do what it could to ensure that the delay is eliminated. The minister came and slashed the number of the agencies to be at the port and directed some agencies to leave the port. So, having the agencies back at the ports will be counter productive. It will definitely hinder the ease of doing business policy of the federal government, ” said Adams Jatto, general manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, NPA.
He also preempted the lobbying of the House of Representatives by SON, clarifying that only the federal government has the prerogative to return any of the agencies to the seaports.
“It is only the federal government that can do that, but again, I am afraid that bringing the SON or any other agency back to the ports will impede the ease of doing business initiative that we have in the port,” Jatto noted.