AS the government moves to amend the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) Act of 2009, stakeholders have said the process should include scrapping of the Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVoC) system.
Contributing their views on the proposed amendments as well as the implementation of PVoC in Dares Salaam on Wednesday, members of the Tanzania Freight Forwarders Association (TFFA), said the new system which was started in February, this year, was a burden to the consumers of imported products.
They said instead, TBS should seriously concentrate on the Destination System (DI) and impose heavy penalties including sending importers of sub-standard products to prison as deterrence. "We have come to realize that these PVoC partners are charging expensive inspection fees on the imported goods which is a burden to final consumers at last.
We suggest for this system to be revoked or be handled by TBS alone," said TAFFA boss, Mr Stephen Ngatunga. He was of the opinion that TBS should be stricter on importers of sub-standard goods instead of depending on private firms to help in containing the situation.
Stakeholders also suggested for manufacturers of the sub-standard products to be held accountable for allowing inferior goods production and take responsibilities when their goods are finally seized. But if PvoC is made to remain, he insisted, inspectors have to undertake verification of goods at the manufacturing stage first, instead of waiting until the importation and exportation stages which is already too late.
TAFFA was equally worried that three selected PVoC agents can not manage to inspect and verify all goods imported from all over the country since they were stationed in some few countries like China, Japan and Dubai. "Employing foreign inspection agents is like duplication of works...How can they protect us while we can't protect ourselves!," he queried.
Mr Shaban Ndeba suggested that importers of sub-standard goods be jailed, saying with such punishment the trend would eventually decline. Responding to the comments, the TBS Director of Quality Management Ms Keziah Mbwambo said PVoC was still a new system which needed to be carefully studied by stakeholders before they came out with complaints. She said returning to DI system was disastrous since it was evident the system failed to deal with inferior products in the past apart from delaying the clearing of imported goods.
"For instance it takes about 28 days to undergo testing of cement at TBS laboratories while the consignments are waiting at the Port which is costly.
With PVoC such delays are not expected," she emphasized. The Acting TBS Director General Mr Leandri Kinabo said already procedures were underway to review current inspection rates charged by agents, including starting charging per containers instead of per items as the case today.
He said talks have started with China and UK for the countries to assist TBS on issues of inspections and China has already responded on that. "China has already promised to assist on logistic issues including guiding us on manufacturing industries of quality products.
We are also going to open office in the city centre to speed up operations and maintain close inspections and services," he said. However, he admitted TBS was not in position to undertake inspections covering the whole country, let alone sending inspectors overseas.