War against dealers of substandard products gain momentum

16Jun 2016
Correspondent
The Guardian
War against dealers of substandard products gain momentum

AT last the importation of substandard goods in the country that has been costing the nation dearly has got a new drive after the government through the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) launched a new approach to curb culprits.

TBS has embarked a crackdown to nab all unfaithful businessmen who will be caught continuing selling substandard goods. FILE PHOTO.

It is estimated that the government incurs losses of between 540bn/- and 900bn/-, which is around 15 to 25 per cent of the total domestic revenue annually in tax evasions related to counterfeits and substandard goods.

Recently, TBS announced to enhance the war against people engaging in importation and selling of substandard goods.

Few months ago, the standard body confiscated over 600 pieces of substandard solar batteries which were found in various stores in Dar es Salaam.

Last week few officials of TBS in collaboration with the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) and the Police force destroyed the confiscated solar batteries worth 55m/-

Speaking during the exercise, one of the TBS officials in charge of standards, Henry Massawe, said the smashed solar batteries had failed to meet the required test.

“In March this year we collected a sample of solar batteries from some of stores at Kariakoo area and found that most of them did not meet test requirements,” he said.

He further noted that most of the batteries did not show their countries of origin, serial number and some failed to meet the needed maximum system voltage.

He said the bureau has now embarked a crackdown to nab all unfaithful businessmen who will be caught continuing selling substandard solar batteries.

Massawe said most of the solar batteries which have failed to meet the required test did not last long and cost people a lot of money unnecessarily.

He called upon the public to purchase electronic appliances and especially solar power gadgets only in certified and legally recognised outlets.

“There are many people in the country who are victims of substandard goods and we must take action to protect the public,” he said.

He has urged law enforcers step in and beat the challenge which he said poses negative impacts to the country’s economy.

For her part, TBS public relations officer, Roida Andusamile retaliated that the standard body will continue to nab people who are importing and selling substandard goods across the country.

"I call upon all business people trading in substandard goods to remove them from their stores and local market, and destroy them before nabbing them in our operations,” she warned.

Shaban Mwakaliku a solar equipment vendor has called on close collaboration with TBS to develop practical measures to curb market influx of substandard goods.

He said most of the substandard solar equipment are entered through porous border points or ports, thus has advised the government to enhance security checks.

According to Executive Secretary of Tanzania Renewable Energy Association (TAREA), Mathew Matimbwi many people in the country are victims of substandard solar batteries as it is hard for them to distinguish fake products from the genuine ones.

He further noted that most solar batteries that were being sold in local market did not meet international standards. And that was why suppliers of such products were reluctant to seek for certification from TBS.

Detailing more about their physical characteristics Eng. Matimbwi disclosed that although most solar batteries being displayed in markets in various shops across the country were marked with an inscription to identify as ‘Germany technology’; and other marked ‘cells from Germany’, but they did not show, countries of origin, where they were manufactured.

“This is wrong as it is a kind of a business trick used to lure buyers into making them believe such products must have been manufactured in Germany, while in the real sense are not.”
He said adding that that was against the regulations governing local standards as required by TBS.

To curb the influx of substandard imports, various countries worldwide have been taking different measures. One of them being the pre-shipment (or pre-export) verification of conformity to standards (PVoC) – a conformity assessment process used to verify that imported products are in conformity with requirements of applicable standards before shipment to a destination country.

Experts have warned that Tanzania’s free market economy, globalisation, capitalism and laxity on policies have fuelled the prevalence of substandard goods in the market.

“If left unchecked, unsafe and unreliable products can cost our country a lot of money each year through replacement costs for products that do not last long, as they supposed to be.

As a result of this, Tanzania like many other countries around the world is now implementing and enforcing robust safety standards to ensure that products imported, sold and used within our country are safe and meet the required standards.

PVoC was introduced on February 1, 2012 in line with Section 36 of the Standards Act No.2 of 2009 as one of the major solutions to curb the importation of substandard goods which without doubt are detrimental to our health and the economy in general.

Before PVoC application there was destination inspection (DI) which started in 1999 as a major means of verifying imports quality. This was done at the ports of entry. Shortfalls in the DI paved way for PVoC.

According to Mwalimu Mbega Tanzania consumers have the right to consume quality products which they purchase with their money.

This necessitated the introduction and implementation of PVoC so as to wipe out substandard products from the market. PVoC is implemented through third party contractors working on behalf of TBS...

Stakeholders have recommended that, TBS should establish offices in each entry point of this country. They say TBS should from time to time randomly retest products with CoCs just to gratify that the PVoC agencies are conducting testing as required.