Demurrage: Price increase looms, importers besiege SON

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The inability of importers to upload the Standards Organisation of Nigeria’s Conformity Assessment Certificate on the Nigeria Customs Service trade portal, for the purpose of getting the Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, has entered the third week and the development is causing panic.

PUNCH gathered that operators who were worried about the demurrage that had continued to accumulate since the past two weeks on the cargo that could not be cleared were already besieging the SON to seek solution to the problem.

The former Chairman of the International Freight Forwarders Association, Tin Can Island Chapter, Sunny Nnebe, said he had been visiting the agency’s office since the weekend.

Also, the Zonal Coordinator, Save Nigeria Freight Forwarders, Dr Osita Chukwu, said he was at the agency on Monday.

The President, Import Group, the Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Donald Uche, told our correspondent that the group had written to the SON and the inspection agent, SGS, requesting them to fix the problem.

He said demurrage was already accumulating for the importers and this would ultimately result in increase in the prices of the goods.

To facilitate international trade by enabling submission of regulatory documents to a single entity or a single location, the NCS had integrated all the agencies of government into its single window trade portal.

Our correspondent had reported that the inability of importers to upload their SONCAP numbers onto the NCS trade portal made it impossible for them to move to the next stage of getting the PAAR without which the goods cannot be cleared.

The situation had been attributed to a recent upgrade in the SON server.

A maritime stakeholder and former member of the presidential committee, Mr Lucky Amiwero, confirmed that the demurrage to be paid by importers on the cargoes would eventually translate to increase in prices for the final consumers.

He suggested that as an immediate solution, the SONCAP should be waived in order to allow the importers carry their goods.

He said, “It is not the fault of the importers that the SONCAP is not uploading. The SON should be made responsible for the cost of its system not working.

“SONCAP is just for standards; it is not a serious requirement in international trade. If it is causing problem, the government should waive it immediately.

“If it was in advance countries, SON would be sued by the importers.

“What this means is that SON is operating a system different from the Customs. The whole thing is supposed to be harmonised from the Presidency.”

On its part, the SON said it was working hard to have the problem fixed.

The Director, Inspectorate and Compliance, Obiora Manafa, stressed the need for patience, saying it was an information communication technology challenge.

“If it was a human problem, then people would be changed, reshuffled or reassign, but this is an ICT issue and there is little or nothing anybody can do about it.

“I also tried using the bank’s x737 code and I was unable to. Somebody said it had been like that since the weekend.

“I know that it is not the fault of the operators and I know that they have suffered loss.”

Manafa pleaded with the importers to be patient as the organisation worked to fix the problem.


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