TANZANIA Bureau of Standards (TBS) has opened three more offices at the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) and at Mtukula and Rusumo border posts to oversee quality of imported goods.
Currently, the bureau has offices in Sirari, Tanga, Horohoro, Namanga, Holili and the Kilimanjaro International Airport.
“We shall employ workers to keep an eye on importation and exportation of products along our borders,” said TBS Director of Quality Management, Eng. Tumaini V.M. Mtitu.
She said in a recent interview that by the end of this year the bureau would work for 24 hours monitoring imported goods before they enter the local market.
According to Eng. Mtitu, since the beginning of the year quality assurance officers impounded substandard soft drinks, mosquito insecticides, lubricants, second-hand clothes and salt.
The bureau has continued conducting its programme of training people on quality assurance and management systems and facilitating traders on ascertaining quality of products.
“We’ve even increased the number of people requiring product certification and awareness on product conformity,” she said.
At this juncture, the fundamental questions are why do people need standards? What role do standards play in their daily lives?
To the majority Tanzanians these questions may sound as difficult as breaking a stone with a fist since they have limited knowledge of what standards mean and how they affect their lives.
To answer the two questions one needs to define what standardisation is all about.
Eng. Mtitu says this is a process of formulating, issuing and implementing standards.
She says a standard is a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognised body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at achieving optimum degree of order in a given context.
She says standards are based on the consolidated results of science, technology and experience and aimed at promoting optimum community benefits.
The major roles of standardisation are to define requirements to be met by products, facilitate interchangeability of technical components, standards as means of means of communication andto facilitate fair international trade through a common trading language.
Other key roles are to build trust and market opportunities, to encourage high quality production, to improve producers’ profitability, and to protect consumers’ interests.
The World Trade Organisation’s Agreement on Technical Barriers Trade (WTO TBT Agreement) was established to ensure that technical regulations and standards and procedures for assessing conformity with them, do not create unnecessary obstacles to international trade.
Successful negotiations between the world’s main trading nations can be made by using standards; standards act as a vehicle for the transfer of technology, standardisation encourages market transparency and thus promotes fair competition and standards provide better consumer information and improve consumer protection.
According to Eng. Mtitu, conformity assessment is the process of deciding whether or not a product, service process, system, person or body conforms to a standard or complies with relevant requirements in technical regulations or standards.
There are a series of procedures that ensure these requirements or standards are met. Products are normally tested or inspected by appropriate laboratories or inspection bodies. Providers of goods and services often need to have management systems that are independently certified. The testing, inspection and certification activities are collectively known as conformity assessment.
Eng. Mtitu explains that by avoiding the need for buyers to verify directly whether the products they acquire meet the required specifications, conformity assessment facilitates trade at both national and international markets.
“Conformity Assessment allows buyers and authorities to make their decisions on the basis of Conformity docuements (assessment reports and certificates) issued by specialised assessment bodies, thereby creating confidence that their expectations will be met,” she says.
The beneficiaries of the Conformity Assessment are consumers because it benefits them with a bais for selecting products or services.
“Consumers and buyers may have more confidence in products and services holding formal evidence of conformity,” Eng. Mtitu explains.
Under the Conformity Assessment system manufacturers and service providers need to ensure that their products and services meet their declared specifications and deliver on customer expectations.
“Assessing their products and services helps them to meet these expectations and to avoid the costs of products and service failures in the market,” Eng. Mtitu adds.
Conformity Assessment may also be a requirement to access a regulated market. When not mandatory, it may provide a marketing advantage.
Regulators, too, benefit from the process which gives them a means to enforce national health, safety and environmental legislation and achieve public policy goals.
According to Eng. Mtitu, insurers want to know that equipment will not cause loss of life and property or other kinds of damage.
International Standards and Conformity Assessment help reduce trader barriers caused by different and successive assessment criteria in different countries.
The Conformity Assessment systems also help remove significant delays and expense for multiple testing and approval.
This, Eng. Mtitu says, allows industry to reduce costs and enter markets faster with its products.