Columnists Features

Substandard products are harmful

LAST week, we talked about standards and why they are necessary. We also talked about some of the benefits of having and adhering to standards by both industry and consumers.
We said that standards address issues of public health and safety as well as the protection of the environment, meaning that as the standard is being developed, these three issues must drive the process.
We concluded that standards are actually beneficial to both the consumer and industry as they promote competitiveness and safeguard the health and safety of the general public.
Today, I want us to talk about the reality of substandard products not only in Zambia but the world over. Substandard products are not only an issue in Zambia but globally.
In fact, This Day Live, a Nigerian magazine, reported that faking and manufacturing of substandard products have assumed a global and trans-border dimension with networks across national boundaries.
With thousands of porous and unmanned routes and ineffective restrictions, these substandard goods are brought in from outside Nigeria just as local faking operations are relentless depending on the product.
When I came across this article, I realised that the substandard products vice is a cancer that is not only peculiar to Zambia, but affects the whole world. It is clear for all to see that Zambia has not been spared of this illicit vice.
Some of the causes that lead to substandard products flooding the market is the porous nature of some of the border areas. The other attribute is that business enterprises want to make maximum profit, so they will source goods that are far much cheaper than a genuine product.
Consumer also provide a ready market for these products because they believe that they are saving money when in fact not. But the lifespan of these products is very brief. The capacity of various regulatory bodies can be another contributing factor to the influx of substandard products.
Substandard products are those products which will not have the similar quality or characteristics of the original product. It is also coming out of the similar manufacturing processes by which good quality products are made. Substandard is simply below standard or not meeting the minimum quality requirement.
The Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) provides testing facilities to ascertain the quality of most products sold on the market. This is why ZABS has committed to partnering with other regulatory agencies. The battle is huge, but the first step is always important.
ZABS also conducts routine market surveillance inspections to monitor the quality of goods and products that are on the market. In this quarter of 2015, in addition to our routine inspections, we have earmarked to undertake three major market surveillance inspections on the Copperbelt, Southern and Central provinces.
On September 15, 2014, ZABS announced to the public that they had undertaken some market surveillances in the central business district of Lusaka and confiscated 700 of 70,000m of rolls of failed electric cables and 632 dozens of counterfeit shoe polish.
After testing the electric cables, results showed that they did not meet the required standard. The counterfeit shoe polish, on the other hand, had the brand name ‘Kiwi’ but did not show or indicate the place of manufacture. Instead, the writing on the wall was that it was made in COMESA. Now, is there a country called COMESA?
Earlier, ZABS had confiscated close to 90 bales of used underwear. As for used underwear, it is obvious that no one wants to share their underwear with another person. These products were destroyed at Chunga dump site in Lusaka on Wednesday last week.
In this instance, ZABS worked with the Competitions and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) and the Zambia Environmental Management Agency (ZEMA).
And as ZABS, we would like to alert the public against buying such products as they are detrimental to their health. The failed electric cables will pose a huge risk on the safety of those who use them.
And I am sure you will agree with me that in the recent past, we have had an increase in the number of unexplained house fires in our country not because of Zesco’s power failures, but because of using substandard wiring electric cables.
The rise in cancer cases cannot be overlooked as using used underwear may pose a great risk of one contracting the disease. Take heed!
The author is head of marketing and public relations
Contact the director,
Zambia Bureau of Standards,
Lechwe House, Freedom Way,
P O Box 50259, Lusaka.
Tel: 260-211-231385,

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