Numberless organisations, workplaces and households across the globe keep underscoring the importance of “standards”. Very understandably so, isn’t it? That is, even if circumstances militate against the implementation of plans to that effect and therefore the situation on the ground belies the passion and frequency characterising pronouncements exhorting people to act and behave accordingly.
Thus, appreciating the fundamental importance of standards in human development and the critical need to ensure they are complied with is no longer one of the official responsibilities or part of the expected role of agencies such as the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) or the Tanzania Food and Drugs Authority (TFDA).
This is the context in which we view the just-reached agreement by TBS and Nigeria standards organisation to forge closer working links, the objective being to enhance the sharing of experience in efforts to minimise the possibility of the respective two countries churning out, importing or otherwise finding themselves inundated with fake or shoddy goods and services.
Tanzania should see itself as especially honoured and privileged in that the pact was sealed at the end of a three-day tour during which it hosted a delegation of Nigerian diplomats and standards experts.
As a member of the Nigerian entourage noted in the course of the tour, commitment to the harmonisation of the quality of goods and services would prove a recipe for the boosting of client or consumer confidence.
Put differently, while a country can make some headway in the war on individuals or corporate bodies flouting laws, policies and rules or regulations governing standards, it would be a much less taxing struggle if the struggle was led by “coalition forces”.
Both Tanzania and Nigeria have so much experience fighting to rid themselves of the shame of being flooded with highly undesirable products that it is no wonder that they have seen why they need to stand up and advance as a joint army as they seek to bring the situation back to normal.
In the particular case of Tanzania, there is ample evidence that merely impounding, confiscating and destroying such items serves little purpose as a deterrent for no sooner are fifty batches of an assortment of such shoddy items subjected to such fate than twice the number enter both the open and black markets.
The cruel fact is that there is always the lingering threat of criminal elements never willing to lose search-and-destroy surveillance teams from law-enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, as if this is not in and by itself serious enough, it is not uncommon for unscrupulous members of the very same agencies to sabotage efforts to clear the market of products and services not making the grade.
Hard as it may be for the authorities to admit as much, this is an undeniable fact. Therefore, Tanzanians have every reason to applaud whatever anyone does or does not do that results in less flooding of our markets with goods and services that we would be much better off without.
Surely, we would be all the happier witnessing more and more displays of such constructive cooperation.