Following its warnings to manufacturers on the need to ensure that steel rods and reinforcement bars produced in the country adhere to required standards, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) stated that it forced producers to return over 200 metric tonnes of steel back to the foundry.
The Director-General, SON, Mallam Farouk Salim, had warned that it would no longer be business as usual, stating that the agency will ensure that all equipment used in measuring various parameters are calibrated in the country.
Salim, who disclosed this during an interaction with journalists in Lagos, said SON is collaborating with other organizations and agencies to ensure that operators comply with extant rules.
Amid growing concerns on the prevalence of substandard products in the Nigerian market, particularly from the Asian markets, Salim said SON is currently conducting a market survey to assess the level of such poor quality products to ascertain the nature, type, and origin of imports.
For locally produced goods, Salim said some steel manufacturers in Lagos were penalized for poor adherence to standards by asking them to return the steel back to foundries.
He acknowledged that raiding markets is not the best way to check the influx of substandard products, and argued that this would have been effectively checked if SON were to be at the ports of entry before such products circulated in the markets.
Despite this challenge, he said SON is strengthening its inter-agency collaboration to check substandard products and faking, particularly with the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) due to the health implications.
On a return policy mooted by the agency over the years, Salim said the decision was beyond the agency’s jurisdiction, saying that the issue has to be deliberated at the highest level of government based on bilateral relations and agreements with the countries from where substandard products emanate.
He, however, said the agency is in the process of reviewing the existing SON Act 2015, with a view to strengthening its power and increasing the penalties for some offenses.
SON also plans to bring back identification marks to enable consumers to check for quality assurance in a more sustainable way, as opposed to the current practice where you buy the product and scratch and text the numbers to a short code for confirmation.
Meanwhile, Salim, during a sensitization workshop for Electrical Dealers Association of Nigeria (EDAN) at the Alaba International Market, Lagos at the weekend urged the electrical dealers to uphold the highest quality standards for them to benefit from the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
Salim said the advice was to ensure the market took its rightful place as the largest market in West Africa, in the AfCFTA and to attract customers globally.
He revealed the agency’s willingness to work with the association in ensuring that the market was free from substandard goods.
“In other, for the market to have a good reputation and to have more customers across the world especially with this open border policy in the AfCFTA, it is very important for them to police themselves, find out those people with bad products, and report them to us so that we can take them out of the market.
“So far, they have not given us a reason to doubt their commitment towards eradicating substandard goods.
“I commend the association for serving Nigerians with quality products because if not for you, the country would have been dominated by foreign goods.
“Anybody here with certification or who has genuine products does not have a problem with SON,” he said.
The SON DG advised the association to always insist on quality products, warning that substandard electronics and electrical products were life-endangering products capable of causing destruction.
Executive Chairman, EDAN, Mr. Fabian Ezeorjika, said the market authority in complementing the efforts of SON had constituted an internal mechanism to checkmate the efforts of those indulging in manufacturing, importation, or exportation of sub-standard products.
He added that the association had also constituted an ad hoc committee called Standard and Anti-Adulteration Committees, vested with the responsibilities of standardizing and regulating the quality of products in the electrical section.
He stated that the association would continue to work with SON to arrest and punish defaulters according to the association’s constitution and report them when necessary.