Weekend Ginger: Pre-shipment Inspection: SON reintroduces policy banned by Government

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President Jonathan-Goodluck

…As Government sleeps

The Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) has adopted new measures to ensure that Nigerians spend, at least, additional N20, 000 or more in buying cars, despite Government determination to work for reduced cost of doing business in the nation’s ports.

Ngozi-Okonjo-Iwela
Ngozi-Okonjo-Iwela

Sent out of the ports few years back, alongside other agencies, over reasons which were not unconnected with undue cargo delay and raising port-operating costs, the SON like the remaining agencies have all ‘sneaked’ back, while Government sleeps.

Prince Olayiwola Shittu
Prince Olayiwola Shittu

Specifically, the SON has not only gone back, it has also engaged three other high-calibre companies, including the Cotecna Destination Inspection Limited, Quality Assurance Projects Limited and Medtech Scientific Limited, one of them even far stronger than itself to flag off a policy the Government abrogated: the Pre-shipment Inspection of cars!

What this means is that those engaged by SON would now pitch their tents abroad so that individuals or car dealers, after buying, would invite them for inspection, pay over N20,000 levy per car; on confirmation that the car or cars in question, is up to Nigerian Standards or specification. Yet, the SON till this minute, has not publish to hungry Nigerians, proudly doing thanksgivings in the mosques and churches, over a 17 year old “tokunboh” car, what Nigerian Spec means!

Already, the Association of Nigerian Customs Licensed Agents (ANCLA) has not only expressed their discomfort with the move, but even threatened to down tool, in bid to frustrate the policy.

An industry watcher, Anthony Emeordi is already hailing the SON for its present move, but only advising that the agency should have engaged six, instead of three companies.

“You would remember what the Bible said: that when an angel you sent out is able to come back, because you went to bed too early, it would go out, engage six others, come back and repossess the territory; and the fate of the nation may be imagined!”, Emeordi said, advising the SON to engage three more.

He loves the SON!

But honestly, can you blame the SON, when virtually all the agencies sent out a few years back or so, are today, all back?! The strong ones jumped over the ports’ fence. The weak ones like the SON came around, first hanging around the streets near the ports, and when they were not challenged, gradually moved towards the Ports’ gates. Today, they are not only doing illegal “bold-face”, they have begun to re-introduce policy that Government banned!

But who declared them banned from the Port? Was it not the present Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo Iweala? Is she no more powerful now, than when she made declaration on behalf of the Federal Government, as a mere Minister of Finance? The next time I visit the University of Ibadan, I would gladly tell my aged lecturer, that he lied, when he taught us that Government is continuous! Is Dr. Okonjo Iwealah still there?

But, is the problem with the SON or with the N20,000 inspection levy? Do we need to blame the SON, for its ingenious approach towards telling stakeholders that the body is finally, fully back?

A seasoned Customs broker told the Maritime First, that they would resist the SON, because, they were already paying a N20,000 on every truck, going into the port!

Our crew refused to believe, and so called on five other agents, who all confirmed it. Maritime Truck drivers popularly called AMATO may be paying, at least, between Apapa and the Tin Can Island Ports, are paying N20,000 before they were allowed entry, into the port. The drivers simply add the ‘paltry’ amount to what the importers would pay. And the importers also, smartly build it into what the ultimate consumers, the poor Nigerians are paying on goods.

Now, if statistics indicate that over 200 trucks daily enter into the Lagos ports, does it mean then that poor Nigerians are extorted daily, over N4 million through the port system? Does this not summed up into a mind boggling figure of over N1.5 billion annual racket, in Lagos?

Could this be one of the reasons that the National President of ANCLA, Prince Olayiwola Shittu is often decrying the multi-facet manifestation of corruption in the industry. “Nigeria is the only country, where a man comes to the port, in September and yet wants to drive back to his village in an expensive car in December?” he always lament, in his usual patriotic zeal.

Is anyone now going to investigate the “allegation” of N20,000 per truck extortion with the aim of curbing it?
And is anyone going to investigate the legality or otherwise, of the SON’s approach towards “possessing” its “possession”?
Are we truly corrupt in Nigeria? Are we corrupt, because the Government is corrupt? Or, are we just corrupt, because the Government, being too busy with a re-election bid, is not in a position, to restrain us?!

See you next week.

NB
We apologize for not serving you your sumptuous Weekend Ginger, last week please.

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