Is Nigeria Now A Dumping Ground For Substandard Products?
The recent activities of smugglers is raising doubts about the effectiveness of security operatives along Nigeria's boarders.
Last week, alleged poisonous frozen fish was found in a container.
According to the government, the smugglers brought in frozen fish such as tilapia, red pacus, river bream, pangassius, horse mackerel, sardine, and croaker through the land borders.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Senator Heineken Lokpobiri, said those involved in the act are sabotaging efforts of government despite the extant fish importation policy.
Last month, the Nigerian Navy intercepted a boat carrying 80 bags of rice allegedly smuggled into the country from Benin Republic through water ways.
Two Chinese Tanlong Shen and Xu Jing Yao were also arrested for importing substandard tyres valued at 5 billion Naira.
The two were paraded before newsmen following their arrest while the warehouse where they had been cloning different sizes of tyres.
This occurred few days after Nigerians expressed outrage after it emerged that Indian-packaged gari was being sold in the country.
The gari packed in a 500g bag, which had the picture of a lady and an inscription, ‘TRS’ (Asia’s Finest Foods) on it, was being sold for 450 Naira.
Preliminary investigations by the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) revealed that the product was made in UK, shipped to Ghana and now being sold in Nigeria.
In December 2016, the Tin-Can Island Command of the Nigeria Customs Service intercepted a 20ft container of “READY TO EAT FOODS” like Egusi Soup, Jollof Rice, Ogbono, Yam Porridge imported from India.
The Customs Area Controller, Comptroller Bashar Yusuf, described the scenario as an “aberration”, considering the fact that government granted zero duty for the importation of machinery for the packaging of agricultural products.
These incidents are just a few of the recent activities of smugglers that seem to have fashioned out a way of importing substandard products into the country.
Two Chinese arrested for importing fake tyres into Nigeria (Photo: Naijagist)
Concerned with the increase in the patronage of substandard products, the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), at the 38th Kaduna International Trade Fair in February said it was sensitizing Nigerians on ways to identify fake and substandard products.
Suleiman Attah, Head of Advocacy Unit of the organization said that the sensitisation focused on small and medium entrepreneurs and consumers.
Tunji Owoeye, Chairman of RIMIDAN (Rice Millers Importers Association of Nigeria) complained that more people now patronise smuggled rice.
“Price of rice has hit the roof and low quality brand has flooded the market just as farmers have threatened to stop rice cultivation.
He said that “Farmers have threatened to stop production of rice as the Millers/ Processors are no longer buying from them. The Processors stopped buying because they could not compete with the smuggled imported rice.
"The price of rice is soaring at a very alarming rate. Presently, a good brand costs N13,000 and above. The fear is that prices of rice will further go. While smuggled imported rice cost about N10,000 in the open market locally produced rice cost as much as 13,000 Naira. The quality of the smuggled rice is of low grade”, he concluded.
According to Financial Vanguard market survey since the imported rice in the market do not go through official channels like the Customs and Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), all imaginable types are now smuggled in.
It is a situation of “anything goes” that is available in the markets place now; most of them are re-bagged in Nigeria and of very low quality. The fall out of the current policy on rice policy therefore is an influx of substandard rice into the Nigerian market and this is very dangerous to the health and well-being of consumers.
A customs officer, who doesn’t want his name mentioned told Bounce News that the porous land borders are the reasons why there is an increase in the activities of smugglers.
“Even if you post all the officers in Customs to the land boarders, these smuggled goods would still find their way into the country because the boarders are just too porous,” he said.