Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has advised the public to be cautious of the substandard electrical products on the market, that have dangerous effects on consumers’ health and safety.
The warning follows a market surveillance operation conducted in downtown Kampala last week in which UNBS personnel and Police confiscated a sizeable amount of substandard electrical products from shops. The operation intended to identify specific businesses involved in the sale and distribution of substandard electrical products.
UNBS also sought to obtain evidence of importation and distribution of the substandard electrical products as well as to seize any substandard electrical products found in the business outlets.
According to UNBS, electrical products are among the products that must fulfil compulsory standards “due to their impact on health and safety of consumers” since they are widely used in homesteads and workplaces for various purposes.
“Substandard electrical items on the market may expose the users to various risks which include electrocution of the user or member of the household due to the exposed live parts,” read a statement issued on Thursday by the UNBS Public Relations Officer, Godwin Bonge Muhwezi.
The standards body adds that poor quality electrical products also pose a risks associated with explosions due to the poor composition of electrical components such as the casing and cables.
Other risks include burning of buildings arising from substandard wires as well as loss of household income through purchase of less durable products.
A recent study commissioned by UNBS established that the prevalence of substandard products among the sampled items stood at 54% down from 73% reported in 2013.
Whereas some traders have blamed UNBS for clearing the same substandard products to enter into the country, government says that such products are brought onto the market by unscrupulous importers who circumvent regulatory requirements by smuggling them using un-gazzeted entry points.
UNBS further says that the importers mis-declare their cargo by using wrong HS codes while others conceal substandard products so as to avoid detection during verification.
UNBS has appealed to the general public and other stakeholders to play their role in reporting products they suspect to be below the requires standards.
“While UNBS is the government body charged with development and enforcement of standards to protect the health and safety of consumers and the environment against dangerous substandard products; the fight against substandard products requires a concerted effort involving UNBS working together with manufacturers, traders, consumers, and other government agencies,” UNBS said.