THE Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, has issued a 60-day ultimatum to all cement manufacturers in Nigeria to ensure compliance with its directive on product labelling. The ultimatum took effect from Monday, July 21. The manufacturers are expected to indicate on the bags of their products the manufacturing and best-before dates, product application information as well as the batch numbers.
The manufacturers, including Dangote Cement Plc, Lafarge Nigeria, Unicem, Ibeto Cement, Ashaka Cement and Sokoto Cement, had pleaded with the agency to review its earlier 30-day compliance to enable them to implement the new requirements in their manufacturing processes. The product labelling, which is expected to enhance traceability in case of product default, also places a responsibility on the manufacturers to ensure that their products meet the required guidelines and health and safety requirements.
In addition, the cement manufactures are also expected to submit their advertisements and commercials for pre-approval by the SON before they are sent to the media, and ensure that the products are properly stored by distributors and retailers to avoid compromising their integrity.
Addressing cement manufacturers and journalists in Lagos on Monday, Joseph Odumodu, director-general, SON, noted that the agency, in line with its mandate of protecting consumers from products that might harm them, had taken into consideration a lot of factors and decided to address the growing concern.
According to him, the manufacturers have an ethical role to play in ensuring that products meet consumers’ expectation and are properly applied by the users. “It is necessary to observe that none of the courts has so far made any declaration to suspend the implementation of the new standard NIS 444-1:2014. Moreover, the yawning communication gap of the last two months in the public domain regarding the sector, which is currently being exploited by the stakeholders, does not augur well for the same reasons for which we came up with the new standard.
“There is, therefore, a necessary need for all stakeholders to meet in a consultative forum to address the following and other issues to expressly declare and reaffirm the mandate of the SON to regulate the sector for public safety; explain the need to address issues of storage conditions and labelling, which do not appear to be in contention at the courts; address, respond and follow up the resolutions of the House of Representatives special committee on cement; and to clarify the differences between standards and technical regulations in the context of the powers and responsibilities of the government to make regulations and to enforce them accordingly.
“The SON is not interested in killing any business. We want to celebrate industries with best practices. Cement is a chemical product and has a life span. It is disheartening to know that the cement produced in this country has no batch numbers. We won’t wait for six months before we commence the implementation of these new guidelines. To this end, we have also perfected an arrangement for the certification of block moulders in the country. The NIS 587 of 2007 will be enforced to check the yield of blocks and composition of blocks. A process has been initiated and implementation will commence on it.
“Also, sellers of building materials will now be certified to ensure that standards and due process are aligned with to aid traceability in the event of an incident, while testing centres are also being established to test the integrity of cement and concrete mixtures,” he said.
MAN Accuses Nigeria Customs Service
THE Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, is on the firing line. Manufacturers in Nigeria have accused it of contributing to the continued congestion at the ports through arbitrary increase of import duties. Kola Jamodu, president, Manufacturing Association of Nigeria, MAN, said the arbitrary increase in duties, as well as imposition of unnecessary taxation by government agencies have led to the accumulation of demurrage at the ports.
Jamodu, who kicked against the current single window environment and pre-assessment technique used by the Customs, made the remark at the 7th business luncheon of the Manufacturing Association of Nigeria, Ogun State chapter. He argued that the process had brought about delay in data generation and verification at the ports. He advised government agencies to desist from turning themselves into milking institutions to the detriment of importers who choose to patronise the local ports.
“Government should ensure that cargo fares are relatively stable over time, while multiple taxation on imports should be looked into as a matter of urgency to avoid further congestion at the ports. Problems of efficient cargo identification, fast clearing process, arbitrary increase in cargo duties and continuous deduction keep reoccurring even at the ports, I believe the Nigeria Customs Service will overturn this deficit in the nearest future”, he said.
Jamodu lamented the erratic power supply witnessed in the country, saying that it also contributes to congestion at the Ports as most appliances are electronically powered and require electricity to function. He, however, commended the Customs for the introduction of Pre-Arrival Assessment Report, PAAR, and Combined Expatriate Residence Permit and Aliens Card, CERPAC, policies, saying “they are alternatives to decongesting the ports.”
He said that since the introduction of PAAR between March and June, 2014, a tremendous achievement has been recorded as dissemination of information to relevant quarters has been made easily accessible. He noted that with PAAR, “removal of bottlenecks at the ports are guaranteed in keeping with the practice in other developed countries.” He stated that in July this year alone, about 86 per cent of cargoes had been cleared.
Compiled by Anayo Ezugwu
— Aug. 4, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT