THE International Standards Organisation (ISO) has faulted the handling of sub-standard goods in Tanzania and challenged the country to deploy substantial human and financial resources to bolster the verification system now in use.
ISO Secretary General Rob Steele said in Dar es Salaam that unless Tanzania bolstered the present system, it would be extremely hard for the country to fight the dumping of sub-standard goods and products in the local market.
He challenged the government at a press conference in the city to ensure it participates fully in all international moves to eliminate the problem of substandard goods. Mr Steele said ISO has realised that Tanzania has not done enough to strengthen its standards verification body, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS).
He urged the government to strengthen the bureau for it to have more impact in the elimination of inferior products entering the country. Tanzania has since 1999 been verifying goods through a system called Destination Inspection (DI), which has, however, proven difficult to detect substandard imports due to various entry points, including unofficial ones.
Other difficulties with the DI system have been inadequate consignment storage facilities at Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) premises, the need for thorough verification on some unfeasible products and conformity verification delays.
"Overall, we commend the country for recording some progress in the fight but I think more need to be done especially in the areas of resources that are vital if positive impact is to be recorded and maintained," suggested Mr Steele.
The senior ISO official said he has met and held talks with the Minister for Industry and Trade, Dr Abdallah Kigoda, who "showed high commitment in moving further steps to contain the problem." He said while the problem of substandard was a global issue, more public education must be provided while buyers should try hard to avoid buying cheap products whose quality is not guaranteed.
The SG said he was aware of complaints and accusations regarding the quality of Chinese products, but noted that the industrialised and technologically- advanced far-eastern country had been fighting hard to tackle the problem.
He was of the view that Tanzania should participate fully in the regional, continental and global efforts to harmonize outdated standard regulations before imposing strict legislation action like taking the culprits to the courts of law.
On agriculture, he said his organization was keenly following up Tanzania positive steps in improving the sector, but cautioned standard agriculture equipment must be maintained for the sector to deliver.
For the country to effectively compete in facilitating trade locally and beyond borders, he said, it was crucial that Tanzania meet all international standards governing production, processing and movement of goods and products to the international markets.
On his side, the TBS Acting Director General, Mr Leandri Kinabo, said ISO has promised to continue supporting the Bureau in realizing its objectives especially in some technical areas. "ISO has pledged to extend its support in various aspects particularly in Information and Communication Technology as well as other specific areas and programmes," he said.
Tanzania ranks poorly in deployment of human resources with a staff of 200 compared to the rest of East Africa. Kenya has over 1,000 staff while Burundi has got over 400 staff in their respective bureaus of standards. However, despite limited staff, TBS plans to open a number of border offices for close monitoring of unofficial routes used to smuggle substandard goods.