Columnists Features

Substandard products: Source of concern

STATISTICS show that by the end of 2014, the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS) had confiscated and destroyed assorted substandard and even counterfeit products to the value of K383,000 in Lusaka alone.
Last year, the Bureau confiscated substandard assorted products worth K224,000, again in Lusaka alone. I am yet to get statistics for the other parts of the country but for now, let us talk about Lusaka.
This was after routine market surveillances and inspections were conducted in various parts of Lusaka to check levels of compliance on regulated products.
A total of K315,980.26 was paid to the Bureau by various companies from whom non-compliant products were seized as penalty fees.
But why should the Bureau destroy these products? Part 5, Section 16 of the Standards Act, mandates the Bureau through the Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry to prohibit or impose conditions on the supply of a commodity of any specified kind or description, if the minister considers that the commodity is so defective that in the interest of public safety, supply of the commodity should be prohibited or restricted immediately.
A substandard product is one that has similar characteristics and qualities of an original product. Substandard products come out of a similar manufacturing process which a good quality product goes through.
Substandard is simply below standard or not meeting the minimum quality requirement. Counterfeit products on the other hand are made to closely resemble or imitate the appearance of another product to mislead the consumer.
Substandard products have many negative effects not only on the health and safety of consumers but are also a detriment to the economic development of the country. You will agree with me dear reader that generally, these products are smuggled into the country and as such they do not go through the normal border clearance procedures.
Economically, huge sums of money are lost because importers do not stick to their obligations in terms of paying taxes.
Now, you and I know that these taxes are the monies that we use for various social amenities for the public.
Substandard products create market distortions and consumers do not get value for money as they have a shorter lifespan.
On the other hand, manufacturers cannot cope with the generally cheaper cost of substandard products and, therefore, it kills fair competition.
And so, dear reader, after planned and routine market surveillances and inspections, ZABS confiscated various substandard and counterfeit products.
The incinerated products included 612 boxes counterfeit shoe polish purported to be Kiwi valued at K125,048, non-compliant electric cables and appliances valued at K29,165.00 and 39 bales of used under-garments valued at K58,500.
The products failed for various reasons, some of which included wrong colour codes of extension cables, round pins for plugs instead of the standard square pins, and counterfeit or imitation shoe polish. The drinks were labelled in a foreign language instead of the official language of communication and business in Zambia, which is English.
Other failed products included used underwear, which is prohibited for sale or use in Zambia. Other products were confiscated because they had no importation documents.
ZABS would like to send a warning to traders and manufacturers that selling of substandard products is a violation of the Standards Act Cap 416 of the Laws of Zambia and can result in them losing their permit to supply.
Importers and suppliers are expected to familiarise themselves with requirements stipulated in the product standards and related compliance requirements to avoid such occurrences.
The author is head – marketing and public relations.
For more information, contact:
The Director
Zambia Bureau of Standards
Lechwe House, Freedom Way
P O Box 50259, Lusaka
Tel: 260-211-231385,

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