The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) Acting Managing Director, Esther Ngari, has acknowledged that the regulatory body does not conduct tests to verify the quality of goods sold within the country.
This admission was made during Ngari’s appearance before the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on Thursday. Thus raising significant concerns about consumer safety and product quality.
Ngari’s statement came as a response to queries from PAC Chair, nominated MP John Mbadi. The Member of Parliament sought answers about the government’s expenditure of Ksh.125.1 million in procuring over 100,000 Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders.
According to Mbadi, many of the cylinders were later discovered to be defective. These cylinders were part of the Mwananchi Gas project initiated during the 2017/18 financial year.
As per Ngari, KEBS does not carry out tests on products to verify their quality. She said that KEBS focuses on inspecting local manufacturing plants to ensure they adhere to set standard regulations.
“Kindly note that it is the responsibility of the person manufacturing a product covered by a Kenya Standard to comply with the requirement of the standards.”Esther Ngari
If found compliant, these plants are granted the prestigious Diamond Mark of Quality. This revelation has ignited concerns over the effectiveness of KEBS’ oversight role and the safety of products available to consumers.
During the PAC session, Ngari disclosed that she was not aware of the flaws in the LPG cylinders until she was summoned by the committee. This revelation left the committee members bewildered and prompted criticism of KEBS’ approach to quality control.
The response from PAC Chair John Mbadi expressed his dissatisfaction with Ngari’s admission. He accused KEBS of negligence in fulfilling its mandate.
Mbadi even suggested that punitive measures, including life imprisonment for KEBS officials found to be endangering lives through their negligence, should be considered.
He asserted that further engagement with Ngari would likely yield no meaningful outcome.
“I don’t think any more engagement with you is beneficial to this committee. Just admit that Kebs is not doing its job and that it’s asleep on the job. We need to amend the law to provide punitive measures such as life imprisonment for Kebs officials exposing the lives of people.”John Mbadi
Mbadi’s sentiment was echoed by Wajir South MP Mohamed Adow. Mohamed chastised Ngari for putting the lives of Kenyans at risk by not ensuring proper quality control measures.
Adow expressed shock and concern over the revelation that KEBS’ quality control relied primarily on trust rather than rigorous testing and inspections.
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The revelation has raised questions about the efficacy of KEBS’ role in safeguarding consumer interests and maintaining product quality standards.
The lack of testing and the overreliance on manufacturers’ compliance self-declarations may expose consumers to substandard and potentially dangerous products.