Kenya awash with fakes

January 11, 2010
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, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11 – The Kenya Bureau of Statistics (KEBS) has warned of an influx of substandard goods in the market.

KEBS Director for Quality Assurance and Inspection John Abong’s said on Monday that despite increased market surveillance, unscrupulous traders had devised new methods of beating the system.

Mr Abong’s said this has led to an influx of banned as well as counterfeit goods circulating in the market.

“A lot of people are now aware of what KEBS is undertaking and they are now devising new methods to circumvent the law,” he said.

Transit goods pose the greatest challenge as those meant for other destinations find their way onto Kenyan shelves without undergoing requisite standard checks. Mr Abong’s said the practice is particularly rampant in Nairobi and Mombasa where traders redirect such goods to sell them at a lower price.

“The Kenyan standards may not necessarily apply to goods meant for transit but by some mischief they are diverted locally. We however continue to monitor such incidences through our networks and we will be soon catching up with these people,” he vowed.

KEBS has already put traders on notice that they risk facing criminal charges for failing to sell goods with certification marks.

The bureau has also introduced import standardisation marks requiring all commodities to undergo a pre-export verification conformity assessment in their country of origin and provide certificates of conformity upon arrival at the ports. Failure to this such goods would be deemed contraband.

The move was aimed at ensuring fair play in the market where consumers are assured of quality products.

Speaking during a sting operation in Nairobi’s Nyamakima area, KEBS Market Surveillance Manager Wilberforce Muthigani said such traders opened the doors for the trade in counterfeit goods, exposing consumers to numerous dangers.

“Counterfeiting is a complicated job and very difficult to detect, but we want people to know that these things could be harmful to your health,” he said.

According to Mr Muthigani, particularly low prices of goods were an indictor the goods may be substandard or fake.

“If you find that a product is priced much lower than what you are used to, then something is not right somewhere.”

Counterfeiters target fast moving consumer goods such as pens, batteries, cosmetics, and a range of other products.  Medicines have also become a great target for counterfeiters.

The Kenya Association of Manufactures estimates trade in counterfeits cost local companies Sh50 billion as well as depriving the government close to Sh19 billion in taxes.

During the raid, goods worth Sh50,000 were seized. They included soap, toothpastes, sweets and pens.

The government has established the Anti Counterfeit Agency charged with combating trade in counterfeit goods in the country.

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