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Fake products: 'Powerless' UNBS explains why

By Carol Kasujja

Added 28th May 2018 12:25 PM

Ugandans have an 80% chance of taking home a fake product which is locally manufactured.

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Ugandans have an 80% chance of taking home a fake product which is locally manufactured.

PIC: UNBS Executive director, Dr Ben Manyindo. (Credit: Carol Kasujja)
KAMPALA - Despite cries by the public about fake products on the market, Uganda National Bureau of Standards(UNBS) has refused to close local businesses, which happen to be the biggest manufacturers of fake products.
In an exclusive interview with New Vision, Dr Ben Manyindo, the UNBS Executive director said Ugandans have an 80% chance of taking home a fake product which is locally manufactured.
“Back then, the most fake products in the country were from China, Dubai and India but these days, the most counterfeited products are locally manufactured goods.
"Some people are greedy for money they will see a fast moving product from China and they counterfeit it, they change expired products to make profits, these people usually operate from 8:00am-5:00pm when the regulator has gone to sleep.
"We know them but we cannot kill them because those local industries are the backborne of industrialisation, they employ Ugandans and develop the economy,”said Manyindo.
Manyindo also noted that they inspect goods at the country of origin, when the product meets specifications, they issue an import standardisation mark but some unscrupulous dealers have abused the process, when they get the certificate they instead start importing substandard products into the country.
“People who are in counterfeits are taking advantage of our weak surveillance due to lack of funds.
"We do not have adequate staff and vehicles to monitor the whole country. As a result, we only cover a few areas during day time yet most counterfeit come in at night,” explained Manyindo.
Out of the 160 border entry points Uganda has, only 19 are under their control.
To make matters worse, Manyindo said, some bread brands on the market are made below the stipulated weight by as much as 100g.
He called upon the public to always report bakers who do not meet standards because poor quality bread is dangerous to people’s health.
“We picked bread from 70 outlets but 23% turned out to be underweight. We are calling upon people to avoid buying bread from the streets, bicycles or people cars. People who sell bread at night are not qualified to handle bread.
I also advise people to always cook their food properly because that way they can cook away some chemicals.
People should also avoid processed food because manufacturers add in chemicals to prolong the goods yet the chemicals are dangerous to people,” he noted.
He noted that as regulators, they have also become more innovative to make sure they safeguard Ugandans from dishonest dealers by issuing instructions to all supermarkets not to stock imported products that are not sealed with the UNBS import mark.
“Importers should make sure that they do not bring in goods that are of low standard because we treat them different. If we find any, we shall revoke their licenses,” he noted.
Will sensitisation help?
For now, Manyindo said, they have intensified sensitisation of masses such that consumers can learn how to differentiate a fake product from a genuine one.
He urged the public to call their toll-free line, 0800-133133 to report any fake products.
While meeting Toilet paper manufacturers, Gyavira Musoke, a consumer protection consultant encouraged the consumers to learn how to identify fake products so that the demand for them fails.
However, this will be an uphill task because to most consumers, it is hard to tell the difference between fake and genuine products.

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