Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Consumer Lobby Pushes for Standards, Quality Laws

The Guardian of 18-03-2008-03
By Patrick Kisembo

The Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) is pushing for the enforcement of product standards and quality laws to protect consumers from the consumption of poor-quality products.

Speaking at the commemoration of the World Consumer`s Rights Day over the weekend, TCAS chairman Daimon Mwakyembe asked the government to put in place a mechanism to enhance the enforcement of standards and laws in the wake of massive circulation of low-quality products in the country.

He said enforcement of legal procedures and regulations to protect consumers against poor-quality products was difficult as many consumers were still unaware of their rights. ``This can be proved by poor attendance of people around here,`` he said citing the small consumers who turned at the World Consumer`s Rights Day celebrations.

He mentioned some of the laws that protect rights of consumers as the TBS Act of 1975, Weights and Measures Agency Act of 1982, Energy and Water Utilities Regulatory Authority Act (EWURA) of 2001, Surface Transport and Marine Transport Regulatory Authority (SUMATRA) of 2001, Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority Act (TCRA) of 2003, Fair Competition Commission Act (FCC) of 2003, Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority Act (TCAA) of 2003, and Bank of Tanzania Act (BoT) of 2006.

Mr Mwakyembe, a former Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) director, said domestic markets were flooded with low-quality products, including edible oil and spare parts. ``Apart from foodstuffs, there are several imported products which are below standard, thereby threatening the lives and health of consumers,`` he said.

It`s high time the government, through relevant authorities and organs, started protecting consumers against the danger posed by poor-quality products imported into the country,`` he added. He said consumer rights is a new concept for many Tanzanians, but insisted it was important to be promoted and publicized in the context of protecting consumers, like what is being done in the national fight against HIV/Aids, poverty eradication and social problems.

This year`s World Consumer`s Rights Day theme was, `Production of poor quality food not fit for the health of the consumer - stop using decomposed food.`` He urged all stakeholders to collaborate with the government to ensure effective implementation of consumers-protection programmes and strategies.

The official appealed for collaboration between the government and other East African Community (EAC) partners in the establishment of an East Africa Consumer Protection Act. ``Consumers will not be treated fairly and justly if there is no proper legal regional ground to protect them.

It sounds illogical to have a common market without a common legal basis for the protection of consumers amongst partner states - Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, Rwanda and Tanzania,`` said Mwakyembe.

TCAS executive director Bernard Kihiyo said a consumer has the right to quality products which meet the buyer`s criteria. According to him, more than 80 per cent of consumers in Tanzania were not aware of their rights and obligations, making them vulnerable to poor quality products. Tanzania is for the first time commemorating the World Consumer`s Rights Day after 25 years since it was officially established in the USA and UK. Other African countries that had been commemorating the day for years are Egypt, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

SOURCE: Guardian follow this link; http://www.ippmedia.com/ipp/guardian/2008/03/18/110593.html

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