SON burst importer of fake tyres hideout
Importers of substandard products who have devised means of operating from remote areas in their bid to avoid detection should be worried, as operatives of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, will continually be on their trail.
Director-General, Pharmacist Farouk Salim gave this warning during an enforcement exercise Friday, in Obafemi Owode area of Ogun State, where the agency busted an unregistered warehouse with hundreds of imported tyres worth about N600 million, declared substandard by the standard regulatory agency.
The DG SON accused importers of taking advantage of the vastness of the country to warehouse substandard products at different hide outs across the country, assuring however that they would not escape the enforcement activities of his agency. Six hundred-million-nadir worth of substandard tyres was discovered at the warehouse, which was confiscated by the agency.
An agitated Salim said the tyres, stuffed in 100 containers, passed through the ports unnoticed, noting that this ugly developments underscores the need for the agency to be readmitted into the nation’s points of entry. This is even as the SON boss assured that his agency will not lower the acceptable standards which its enforcement unit will continue to drive in lieu of the NIS 252 2017 standards; as he explained in detail the tools for standard measurement and identification of defects.
His words: “If the tyres are used and expired, the tyres are substandard, if the tyres are stuffed, the tyres are substandard. Stuffing means putting a smaller tyre into bigger ones and another bigger one into the biggest one by way of dodging duties and shipping cost to make too much profit.
“But in the act of making too much profit, they do not look at the quality implication of these tyres. Anybody buying a tyre should do physical examination and visual examination.”
Salim said the seizure was to ensure that those tyres stuffed in over 100 containers, did not find their ways into the nation’s markets, as their integrity had been lost; noting that it is part of its mandate to safeguard consumers against counterfeit and substandard products including tyres.
“This is a very dangerous situation because people’s lives are at stake and our roads are not safe because of something like this. We have no idea how these tyres got into this country. We are not at the ports and it did not come through us and they do not have papers with us that the goods have been cleared.
“We do not also have access to the port because if we were at the ports, there is no way we would allow about 100 containers; and you can imagine if another 15 warehouses around the country, we are looking at about 2000 containers slipping through unnoticed.”
Findings show that whereas manual labourers hired from outside the warehouse on pay-as-you-work basis, were all arrested alongside the warehouse manager, SON gave indication of prosecuting all those found in the premises, even as the suspected Indian owner is at large.
‘‘We have arrested the manager of the warehouse, but the owner of the product is a foreigner and happens to be outside of the country and we are sure he would come to explain himself. And if he does not, we will just prosecute the manager and anybody involved in this property.’’
He said given the vastness of the porous entry points nationwide, it would not be a surprise to discover the existence of other illegal warehouses, around the country.
“It is a very dangerous trend and this is why we are still emphasising that the best way to enforce is to be at the point of entry. This is why about 100 containers slipped through the ports and ended up in the warehouse.’’ he enthused.
He assured that his agency and the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) inter-agency relationship is robust and intact, even as he underscored the importance of synergy among sister agencies in combating the menace of substandard goods.
Manager of the warehouse, Emmanuel Ogbagu, said the warehouse employed outside manpower to un-stuff the tyres to be taken to markets across the country. Ogbaju informed that all efforts to reach the owner of the warehouse have so far proved abortive.