In a bid to decentralize its operations across the country, the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau on Monday 10th August officially opened its inspection office at Gbalamuya , which is located at the Guinea/Sierra Leone border.
In his welcome address, the deputy director of the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau, Amadu Joggor Bah thanked officials of the National Revenue Authority and Immigration department for the hospitality. He described the NRA and Immigration officers at Gbalamuya as the custodians of the multi complex building which was helping to facilitate trade between the two countries. Mr. Bah said the establishment of the office was as a result of the cross border trade between Sierra Leone and Guinea in which some of the products inspected do not meet international standards and as such a lot of substandard products had flooded the market. He said to end this practice, the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau’s inspection office would be charged with the responsibility of conducting quality checks through the aid of “rapid test kits” to ascertain the quality of products that meet the Bureau’s standards before clearance is authorized at the border.
In his statement on behalf of the Executive Director, Mr. Bah described trade as a major contributor to global economic growth in which Sierra Leone is not an exception. He said as nation strive towards improving its economy through its trade agenda, “opening markets and promoting an interconnected global economy, “our task as a nation should not just be about making dollars and cents or Leones and cents, rather its about the quality of our lives.” The Deputy Director said as trade matters to everyone, Standards Bureau is charged with the mandate of promoting quality management system to ensure that all products meet the Sierra Leone Standards or international standards. He said as ECOWAS was rolling out the Common External Tariffs (CET) for all products so also was the issue of quality in the domestic and regional markets as they had gained prominence. “As a result, ECOWAS is putting in place a mutual recognition of quality management system in all member states.” Mr. Bah added that the effect of substandard products flooding the market had collapsed most industries in the country thus weaken domestic markets where consumers cannot distinguish between a good product from a bad one. He said through the support of the Government of Sierra Leone and other donor partners like the European Union and NORAD, the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau had been equipped with a state of the art equipment that would do test parameters for most food and petroleum products. He said this would not only enhance the confidence of consumers and improve domestic industries but would also ensure that imported goods meet Sierra Leone Standards.
The Deputy Director urged stakeholders involved in the inspection process at Gbalamuya to use the power of trade to improve the well-being of people by what he described as “coordinating and exercising our mandate more effectively in order to help push the Agenda for Prosperity Pillar for international Competitiveness.
Earlier, the Chairman, National Standards Council, Mr. Kingston B. Evans in his opening remarks said the opening of SLSB’s inspection post was primarily meant to discourage the entry of substandard or counterfeit products into Sierra Leone in accordance with international best practices. Mr. Evans said the inspection post would prevent the import of unsafe, unfair competition, dumping of hazardous and dangerous/substandard goods into the country. He noted that SLSB’s inspection post would help NRA and other institutions to verify the authenticity of certificates of conformity and collect the required revenue for Government. “I wish to inform all that the Sierra Leone Standards Bureau has joined Member States of ECOWAS to commence the operations of Product Conformity Assessment programmes which implies that all consignments arriving at the border post not accompanied with certificates will be denied entry into the country”, the NSC Chairman said. He appealed to the security forces to collaborate with the Standards Bureau inspection officers for effective monitoring and inspection process.
Paramount Chief Alimamy Fabeh Konkoolioko Konologbaby II of Gbinle Dixion Chiefdom expressed happiness for the commissioning of the inspection post describing it as timely. He urged SLSB officials to be vigilant and professional in ensuring that the menace of importing substandard products into Sierra Leone becomes a thing of the past.