ALTHOUGH sellers of second-hand underwear are gradually refraining from unethical trade of inferior garments, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) says some dealers were still selling used undergarments -- socks, brassiere and underpants -- secretly and openly.
TBS, the country's standard watchdog, has vowed to contain the immoral business in the local market. TBS's Quality Assurance Officer, Mr Donald Manyama told this paper yesterday that apart from dealing with wholesalers, an operation will continue to establish where the retailers are getting the products and required action taken.
"It is true that we have encountered positive trend among wholesalers who are not importing used underwear anymore, but we are working hard to obtain the routes used by few dealers to avail these products into the market," he said.
The 'Daily News' witnessed one dealer at Ubungo Bus Stand on Sunday noon displaying very torn and 'pathetic' braziers selling them at 500/- each.
Uninformed customers mostly low income earners are always seen in a number of used garments shopping corners bargaining for a piece or two notwithstanding their side effects to their health.
But, according to Mr Manyama, it is increasingly becoming common that such products are most likely being imported through unofficial routes 'panya routes' that are difficult to mark under normal circumstances.
Scattered, semi marked or unmarked unofficial routes are one of the challenges TBS and other quality and standards regulators are facing in ensuring the country remains free of dumped substandard products. One of the wholesalers, Mr Fayaz Karim, said that his shop used to sell the undergarments but stopped it as soon as the government ordered for the business to stop.
"We were doing the business while knowing it is not safe for human health and that was one of the reasons we stopped it after the sensitization campaign by TBS. But, we also know there are some of the dealers still supplying them although we are not in a position to speak for them," he said.
TBS Public Relations Officer, Mrs Roida Andunsamile said that used garments are one of the products supposed to be inspected by the inspection partners contracted to work on behalf of the Bureau.
However, she said that it's not yet clear whether the inferior undergarments currently circulating in the market were imported through the Pre-shipment Verification of Conformity to Standards (PVoC) system or not.
She said the inspection exercise won't stop until the last cloth has been phased out as TBS intensifies surveillance as well as education programmes to the public on the effects of wearing substandard underwear.