KENYA – Traders engaged in dumping of poor quality goods in Kenya could pay heavily if plans by the standards body bear fruit.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) said it is reviewing regulations to include stiffer penalties and jail terms in a bid to protect the consumer.
Speaking at the flag off ceremony of 10 vehicles to be used for market surveillance, the managing director Charles Ongwae said the review is expected to have been finalised within a fortnight.
“The new penalties will include heavier fines and longer jail terms, to culprits who manufacture and the distributors of substandard products in the market,” Mr Ongwae said last week.
Speaking at the same event, Kebs Chairman Lucas Maitha called for co-operation with other government agencies to eradicate substandard goods seeping through the borders.
“Once a case has been identified of existence of substandard goods in the market, Keb’s first step would be to take the products off the shelves for testing and destruction if found to contain harmful ingredients,” Mr Maitha noted.
According to the chairman, the bureau also has the right to withdraw licences of registered manufacturers producing inferior goods.
Kebs last year developed new regulations for industrial chemicals to restrict increased use of ethanol in alcoholic drinks that has caused several deaths.
According to the Standard Act Revised Edition 2012, any person convicted, in case of a first offence, shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or to a fine not exceeding Sh1 million or both.
“In the case of a second or subsequent offence, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to a fine or to both imprisonment and fine, and, where an offence is of a containing nature, he shall in addition be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings for each day or part thereof during which the offence continues,” reads the Act.
SEIZE AND DETAIN GOODS
It also gives inspectors powers to seize and detain any goods or documents which they have reason to believe may be required as evidence in any proceedings for any offence. Mr Maitha urged Parliament to develop stringent measures to curb the menace.
“Most of these substandard goods find their way into the Kenyan market as a result of porous borders. We are, however, putting measures in place to ensure that goods are inspected at point of origin,” Mr Ongwae said.
The standards body has also urged the public to play an active role in reporting cases of substandard goods in the country.
“We have introduced an SMS platform to facilitate consumers, retailers and businesses to query whether the products offered for sale have been certified by Kebs,” Mr Maitha said.
He said they are also working on implementation of a new technology meant to stop counterfeiting of Kebs’ quality marks.
“Once this is fully rolled out, the quality marks will have full traceability to the products for which they were issued. The new technology will facilitate efficient dissemination of information collected through quality assurance, import inspection testing, and market surveillance, and monitoring,” said the chairman.
According to Mr Ongwae this move will play a big role in protecting local manufacturers from losses that result from dealing in poor quality products.
“We have set aside Sh100 million this year to deal with the challenges we have been having in terms of surveillance and monitoring of products in the market,” he added.
Kebs is due to receive testing equipment worth Sh290 million through the standards and market access programme, which was launched by the European Union.