Friday September 14 2018

Traders protest UNBS operation on electronics

UNBS official picking some of the alleged

UNBS official picking some of the alleged substandard electrical appliances from a shop in Masaka Town on September 13, 2018. PHOTO BY MALIK FAHAD JJINGO 

By MALIK FAHAD JJINGO

Traders in Masaka Town have protested an operation conducted by Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) on fake products .
The Thursday operation led by Sarah Nantongo, a UNBS surveillance officer ,left most shops that deal in electrical appliances located at Elgin Street in the heart of Masaka Town almost empty after all their products said to be substandard were impounded by the standards body.
Some of the impounded appliances include; water heaters, extension cables, bulbs and sockets among others.

Ms Nantongo said the operation was aimed at removing substandard products from market which she said are dangerous to end users.
She said most shops they visited had substandard products which have dangerous chemicals and most of the electrical appliances they picked had failed tests that were conducted by UNBS which indicate that they are fake.

“We have officers at most border posts to clear products before they enter into Uganda and a trader is supposed to be issued with certificate of conformance (COC) to show that they have complied with the standards ,but most shops we inspected did not have these certificates ,an indication that their products are not genuine and if they are not substandard ,they were smuggled into the country,” she said.
She said that her team which deals with post control surveillance issued goods seizure forms to all traders whose products were impounded ,saying that those who have any complaints they should go to the standards body offices to claim for their products if they have proof that they are not substandard.
“We also visited supermarkets and expired food stuffs and substandard products like cosmetics with dangerous chemicals were impounded.” she added.
However, the operation did not go down well with traders who questioned the criteria the officers were using to identify substandard products.
Traders led by Charles Kasumba, also the chairperson of traders association in Masaka Town, claim that they purchase their products from big suppliers in Kampala after paying high prices with taxes wondering why UNBS doesn’t stop importation of substandard products into the country instead of inconveniencing retailers.

“UNBS knows where Chinese shops and stores are located in Kampala, if the products they import are substandard ,they should stop them from supplying these appliances instead of storming retail shops to impound poor traders’ merchandise,” Kasumba added.
A surveillance report by UNBS for 2017 and 2018 indicated that more than 54 per cent of goods on the market are fake, though the public thinks it’s at about 80 per cent.
The report showed about 33 million products out of the 8.6 billion were substandard and had been stopped from being imported.

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