SON, manufacturers meet over aluminium specification
Both parties had met two weeks ago without reaching a compromise on the stipulated thickness of aluminium products as the government had stick to its guns that the importation of aluminium roofing sheets of less than 0.50mm thickness and cold roll steel of less than 0.20mm thickness into Nigeria will not be allowed.
The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) had in a circular dated November 13, 2009, informed all authorised dealers, destination inspection service providers, the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) and the general public that “with effect from November 16, 2009 that the banned thickness would not be permitted into the country.
The circular signed by CBN’s Acting Director, Trade and Exchange Department, Batari Musa, said request for establishment of Form ‘M’ for these items which do not meet the Nigerian specification (NIS488.2004) should not be entertained by authorised dealers, but that only transactions that had been initiated before the issuance of the circular would be attended to before February 2010.
The CBN circular may have emanated from a statement recently by the Director General, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. John Akanya, which said the “minimum specified thickness in the Nigerian Industrial Standards for profile aluminium roofing sheets (NIS 448:2004) popularly referred to as long span is 0.55 millimeters.”
But the association, representing all stakeholders in the aluminium sector, said government’s resolve to stick to the 0.50mm specification was counterproductive as it would shrink the market and cut off supply to the middle class because the major issue to contend with would be that of affordability.
The stakeholders, represented by the Chairman of Qualitec Aluminium Industries Limited, Chief Oluyinka Kufile, Managing Director, Nigerian Aluminium Extrusions Limited (NIGALEX), Walter Fetzer, Commercial Director, First Aluminium Nigeria Plc, Robin Neville and a representative of Tower Aluminium, argued that the demand in the nation’s market accommodates aluminium thickness of between 0.40mm and 0.45mm, adding that they, in collaboration with SON, were reviewing the 2004 standard of 0.55mm to peg it at 0.40mm when suddenly the CBN circular was released last week. “0.40mm thickness takes into consideration the nation’s market environment and finance.”
According to them, SON should have consulted stakeholders in the industry before advising CBN, adding that the specification being enforced would have ripple effect on production, employment, on users and buyers. “We manufacture roofing sheets from the plain or coated coils and don’t import sheets as stated in the circular. They are produced in Nigeria. The earlier the meeting the better for the industry.”
Their stipulation of 0.40mm thickness, the stakeholders said stemmed from the fact that besides roofing, aluminium was used for wall cladding, boat lining, rain water trapping and other forms of application that would not require thickness of up to 0.5mm.
Making a case for 0.40mm thickness, they said the use of aluminium roofing became affordable only in recent years when the thickness applicable 15 years to 20 years ago was reduced from between 0.7mm and 0.9mm to 0.55mm and that their specification would make the product more affordable.