No fewer than 20,000 jobs would be layed off in the iron and steel sector if the Federal Government fails to address the influx of substandard galvanised roofing sheets into the country.
The umbrella body in the sector, the Galvanised Iron and Steel Manufacturers’ Association (GISMA), which gave the warning at the weekend in Lagos, accused the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) of not doing enough to checkmate the importation of substandard roofing sheets into the country.
In a chat with The Nation, GISMA spokesman, Mr. Lateef Bello, warned that if urgent steps are not taken in the next 30 days, his members may be forced to offload about 20, 000 workforce into the labour market.
He advised the SON to complement President Muhammadu Buhari’s efforts in the anti-graft fight and comply with the Industrial Roadmap Revolution (IPR).
He lamented that despite the presence of state coordinators of the agency in the nooks and crannies of the country, the markets are flooded with substandard roofing sheets.
He said: “We are aware that the SON held a press conference recently and unveiled its successful seizure of substandard aluminium sheets worth over N200 million from various aluminium companies in Uyo.
“SON in its address, further confirmed that the minimum thickness of aluminium roofing sheets is 0.4mm. The substandard products with the quality of 0.25mm were, however, imported into Nigeria at the detriment of unsuspecting members of the public.”
He condemned SON over its attempt to divert the attention away from its core responsibility of providing the atmosphere for steel and iron manufacturers, stressing that aluminium roofing sheet is a smaller fraction of the total market.
He said: “SON has been silent about the illegalities going on in the endemic smuggling of galvanised plain and coloured roofing sheets in Nigeria. We are categorically requesting that names of perpetrators of such unpatriotic acts be made public in order to reflect transparency and accountability in their operation.
“It is our expectation that SON should censor some of its officials suspected to be collaborating with smugglers of substandard products by mounting surveillance and detective operational techniques across its branches nationwide.
“Importation of substandard products is tantamount to waging war against the Federal Government’s policies of discouraging the supply of illicit items capable of causing havoc and short-charging the citizenry.
“Sparing anyone involved in this dastard acts amounts to aiding and abetting corruption and exposing the nation to ill-infrastructural deficit and challenges.
“There is need for the Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and SON should investigate if the fine imposed on the offenders is commensurate with the weight of the offence committed.