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Manufacturers want SON back in ports, stronger govt support

Farouk Salim

Chidi Ogbuokiri

President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Engr. Mansur Ahmed, has said that in view of the mandate of standardisation and quality control across the country, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the agency requires strong and full support of the Federal Government, financially or otherwise, in order to enable the agency perform its task satisfactorily.

This came as MAN has called on the Federal government to allow SON to return to the nation’s seaports as a way of checking the influx of sub-standard products into the country, adding that the agency needs to be assisted especially if the nation would make a headway economic diversification and industrialisation.

Speaking during a recent visit to MAN headquarters in Lagos by the SON Director General, Mallam Farouk Salim, MAN President said that the presence of SON at the seaports would make its work more efficient and effective rather than allowing it to chase containers in the highways and markets.

Ahmed said: ‘‘We have made strong representations to the relevant ministries and the agencies and we are making steady progress to ensure that there would be smooth operations at the ports when SON is returned. I believe that when they do that, the whole system will be harmonised so as not to generate another congestion at the ports. That was what led to the problem, but I believe that with the use of technology, better system would be put in place so that SON would be linked with other agencies to have one-stop shop.’’

He stressed the need for the private sector players to support, co-operate and continue to collaborate with SON to check counterfeiting and illicit businesses across the country.

Meanwhile, SON in its determination to protect and promote the investments of genuine local manufacturers, has disclosed that it would soon roll out a product authentication scheme in order to grow local production.

To this end, the agency said it would partner MAN to come up with a user-friendly product authentication mark to protect genuine manufacturers across the country.

SON DG, Mallam Farouk Salim, who dropped this hint disclosed that the priority of the standards body was to protect local and genuine manufacturers, noting that the agency has been working relentlessly to find a user-friendly and cost effective way of introducing product marks.

He disclosed that the priority of the agency is to protect local industries because they have faith and confidence in the Nigerian economy hence.

He said: “We are trying to find a more user-friendly way of introducing product marks. I feel that we can work together for manufacturers to voluntarily carry product marks while people importing would go through the scheme. That way, if there is an additional cost, it would be on those importing into the country.”

He added: “The advantage is that if the product authentication mark succeeds, local manufacturers would join voluntarily because they have seen the value in it while on the other hand, if we implement it, we will make sure that all imported products go through a certain level of scrutiny.”

He said going forward; SON would intensify its partnership with MAN to identify genuine local producers, saying whatever are existing benefits the association enjoys would be improved upon.

“We have concessions that we give to MAN and this is one of the ways we encourage manufacturers to join MAN because they get the benefit of our concession and whatever certificate we get from MAN, we are going to honour it,” he assured.

He agreed totally with the MAN President on the need for SON to return to the ports, adding that to combat the influx of substandard goods into the country, there is an urgent need to deploy a robust cooperation between SON, MAN and other captains of industry.

Salim stated that there is no way the agency would track containers if their operational base is not domiciled at the ports. “We need the opportunity to get free access to goods within and outside the ports. We need the strength of the community to back our legal demands to do our job. We are also reinvigorating our operations, he said.

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