Thursday, June 19, 2008

200 students in higher learning institutions team up to protect consumers

By Mgeta Mganga
More than 200 students from local higher learning institutions have teamed up to protect consumers against substandard products being sold in the country.

Speaking to this paper during the first meeting which discussed consumer rights held in Dar es Salaam last week, Ali Suleiman, a Second Year student at the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) said the team was formed to educate the public on the effects of substandard products.

The students are from University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, Institute of Finance Management, College of Business Education (CBE) and Dodoma University. The meeting was organised by the Dar es Salaam based Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS) and attracted more than 150 students.

He said the acts of violation of consumers` rights have been increasing and they intended to educate them on the same. Follow this link;

Cross section of University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM) students, Teachers, TCAS Chairman and Executive Director who attended mobilization meeting on 31st.May.2008 at UDSM

``We have been witnessing a lot of violation of consumer rights in almost every thing starting from food to clothes. Unfortunately they do not have a place to present their complaints to,`` he noted. Suleiman, said students want to be part of the consumers` lobby in protecting their rights once they are violated.

Speaking at the same meeting, Dr Rose Shayo, from the Institute of Development Studies (UDSM), thanked the students for their decision but insisted about education on fake goods. She said many consumers do not understand fake goods, adding that intensive education is needed to help them.

``Many people do not take trouble to read expiry dates of products or cannot distinguish the fake from genuine ones, so we need to educate them,`` she said. She said even affected people do not know where to complain as they end up lamenting or take the unnecessary costs. Dr Shayo urged academics from all higher learning institutions to join the bandwagon and defend the consumers.

For his part, the TCAS chairman, Daimon Mwakyembe, said the society intends to conduct more campaigns to educate the public on the effects of substandard products through various ways. The lobby group claims that 80 per cent of consumers in Tanzanian do suffer from lack of awareness about what rights they were naturally entitled to enjoy from suppliers of goods and services.

In recent times, he said, investors were apparently becoming more concerned to invest in companies that are seen to be acting in a socially responsible manner. Transparency and a commitment to responsible business could give a company an advantage in securing public contracts.

Mwakyembe, the immediate past Director General of Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS) said the goal is to work toward addressing consumers` right for quality products as well as getting best deal for the value of their money. Since 2005, TCAS has been providing an advocacy platform that would make the voices of consumers heard and hence make markets work better both for those in urban and rural areas.

· SOURCE: The Guardian through the following link

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