By Angel Navuri
The Guardian; Wednesday 12, September 2007
The fair Competition Commission (FCC) has said that about 50 per cent of all imported goods from China and sold in Kariakoo shops in Dar es Salaam are counterfeit. Speaking to the Guardian yesterday, the FCC Director of Consumer Affairs and Administration, Michael Shilla, said many local traders took sample of specific products to China where fake brands were manufactured.
“Traders take the samples and fly with them to China to have substandard goods manufactured for them. They then sell them in the local market at a cheaper price compared to that of original goods,” said Shilla
Shilla said that counterfeit goods had a negative effect on the country’s economy as well as genuine entrepreneurs. “Imitation goods, whose quality is poor, are widely sold in Tanzania market at low price. Most of them pose harm to human beings,” he said.
Electronics are among the leading phone goods overwhelming the Tanzania’s chief market location – Kariakoo in Dar es Salaam. He said dealers in genuine goods were incurring losses as customers opted for cheaper items, causing the government to lose projected revenue.
Shilla said bogus products were a major problem in the country at the moment. He said the commission was waiting for the government to amend the law regulating its functions so as to give it more teeth. “At the moment, we are only allowed to inspect goods at the port and not otherwise. We can only inspect the shops with a court order in hand,” he said.
He said in most cases, they got court orders rather late, only to find out that the suspected dealers had already hidden the counterfeit goods. “We can catch the fake items but we are normally required to get a court order, which, in most cases, takes too long to allow us nab the culprits,” he said.
Asked why FCC preferred burning counterfeits to burying them, the official said: “Environmentalists have advised us to burn them because some have chemicals which are a health hazard. Burying them could result into some irresponsible individuals digging them out and injecting them into the market.”
Asked how they differentiate between an original and fake brand, the official said they normally collaborated with the manufacturer’s representative of a specific product. Responding to a question on measures taken against the illegal dealers, the Commissions legal officer Laiton Mhesa those caught were required to foot the cost of destroying the condemned merchandise or risk a three-year jail sentence or a 5m/ - fine.
On whether such action had helped to curb the flow of given goods, Mhesa said the punishment had in a way helped to reduce the number of those involved in the illegal business.
At least 300 cartons of fake Kiwi shoe polish products worth 21m/- were recently impounded during a crackdown against counterfeit products, which have saturated the country’s markets.
Source from business circles have revealed that most if the counterfeit products originate from China.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian yesterday, FCC Consumer Complaints Officer Frank Mdimi confirmed that a consignment of imitated Kiwi shoe was impounded two weeks ago by the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) following a tip-off from a Good Samaritan.
The 261 cartons-each containing 30 boxes and the 42 others cartons, each with 20 boxes, were imported from China, being property of Nkumba Amon Kitula and Nchikichi Trading Company, respectively. The fake Kiwi cartons were destroyed yesterday at Wazo Hill on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam.
“We got a tip off from a Good Samaritan that there was a bogus Kiwi stock at the port. After the alert, we carried investigations and unearthed the consignment,” said Mdimi. He said that normally, before the commission destroyed the products, quality inspectors were supposed to verify that the goods were counterfeit.
“People always think that we are not doing our work. However, the Merchandise Marks Act of 1963 doesn’t give us the power to seize fake products that are already on the market,” he said.
Police on Sunday impounded a large number of alleged counterfeit Hitachi TV sets, which were also imported from China, impeccable sources told The Guardian.