By Eric Toroka
Business Times; Friday, 20-26 June, 2008
More than 200 students from local higher learning institutions have formed a group that will drum-up support for consumers against sub-standard products being sold in the country.
Speaking to this paper during the first meeting on consumer rights held in Dar es Salaam last week, Ally Suleiman, a second year student from the University of Dar es Salaam (UDSM), said that the student team would also educate the public on the effects of substandard products.
The students are from the University of Dar es Salaam, Ardhi University, the Institute of Finance Management, the College of Business Education (CBE) and the Dodoma University. The meeting was organized by the Dar es Salaam based Tanzania Consumer Advocacy Society (TCAS), attracting more than 150 students.
He said the violation of consumer’s right had been on the increase and in that case they were intending to educate consumers on their rights. “We have been witnessing a lot of violation of consumer right in almost every thing starting from food, Many people do not take trouble to red the expiry dates of product or cannot even distinguish between fake and genuine ones, so we want provide them with education to clothes, unfortunately they do not have a place to deliver their complaints”, he said.
Suleiman said the student had planned to be part of consumer’s voice especially in protecting their rights once violated. Speaking in the same meeting, Dr. Rose Shayo, from the Institute of Development Studies at UDSM, thanked the students for their decision, but insisted that the move should be based on education about fake goods.
She said a number of consumers across the country failed to identify fake goods, therefore, there was a need for launching an intensive education campaign to help them. “Many people do not fake trouble to read the expiry date of product or cannot even distinguish between fake and genuine ones, so we to provide them with education,” she said.
She revealed further that even the victims of those fake products failed to exactly know they should lodge their complaints and instead up lamenting for incurring unnecessary costs. Dr. Shayo urged all academicians from higher learning institute in the country to climb on the bandwagon.
For this part, the TCAS chairman, Daimon Mwakyembe, said his society had planned to conduct more campaigns on educating the public about the effects of sub-standard products through various ways.
The lobby group claims that 80 per of consumers in Tanzania do suffer from lack of awareness on what rights they really entitled to enjoy from the suppliers of goods and services. In recent years, he said, investors were apparently becoming more concerned to invest in companies that were seen to be acting in a socially responsible manner.
According him, transparency and a commitment to responsible business could give a company an advantage in securing public contracts. Mwakyembe, the immediate past Director General of the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS), said the goal was to work toward addressing consumer’s rights for quality products as well as getting best deals for the value their money.
TCAS, which has been in operation since 2005, provides an advocacy platform that makes the voice of consumers be heard, hence making markets work better for both urban and rural consumers in Tanzania.