UNBS to streamline solar products standards

By Gloria Nakiyimba

Following a public outcry of poor quality solar products flooding the market Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is in the final stages of developing a standard for solar products in the Solar Home System and Pico solar products category.

UNBS Standards Development Manager, Mr. Andrew Othieno says according to the draft standard’s minimum requirements, any included electrical/electronic/appliances/power supplies must carry recognized and valid consumer safety certification and batteries shall not contain hazardous substances like mercury or Cadmium, components, connectors, switches and accessories must be strong enough to meet various stresses and strains and operation cycles of at least 1000 among other requirements.

“The Draft Standard, once approved will be made Mandatory for solar products dealers, importers, users et cetera” said Othieno.

The UNBS Deputy Executive Director in charge of standards Patricia Bageine Ejalu noted that there will be a lot of imports inspections and market surveillance activities to ensure that all poor quality solar products are taken off the market.

UNBS officials granted bail

By Sania Babirye

The anti corruption court has granted a one million cash bail to two officials from the Uganda National Bureau of Standards Mbarara branch who were charged and remanded to prison on the 15th of this month for soliciting and receiving a three million bribe.

The two including Shaka Vitalias and Mwamule Norman both employees of UNBS working at Mbarara regional offices ,as a head of Inspection and Surveillance respectively have been releases by grade one magistrate Moses Nabende and ordered to return to court on the 6th of November for further mention of their case .

Prosecution states that on the 6th of October 2020 in Kabwohe Sheema district, the two solicited and received a bribe of three million shillings from Mukama Nayamva a branch manager of one of the factories in the district to write a favorable report about the factory and not to close it after inspection.

It is alleged that on 29/7/2020 the suspects who were driving an official car Registration Number UAJ 486X Nissan Pickup, went to Mukama Nayamba processing factory and introduced themselves and indicated that they had come to do official business of inspection.

Unfortunately upon completion of thier inspection they intimated that the factory had failed to measure to the standards and threatened to close it.

Scared of their actions, the Manager of the factory offered them one million which they declined , but insisted that they needed 10Million.

With the continued engagement, the two parties settled at 6 million which was handed over to Shaka Vitalias.

The suspect later came a week after and demanded more money to the dismay of the workers at Mukama Nayamba.

But on consultation with thier MD, a position was reached that these people should be tracked and be arrested.

Indeed a 3 Million trap was set to which the suspects succumbed to on 6/08/2020.

The suspects were then arrested, searched and found in possession of the money, and detained at Sheema Police Station.

Case file CRB 496/2020 was opened, investigations expedited and charges of Corruption C/S 2(a)&26 of the Anti-Corruption 2009 as Amended were sanctioned and dully consented to.

Suspects were re-arrested and brought to Kampala where they appeared today 15/10/2020 before His worship Moses Nabende and remanded till 23/10/2020 for hearing of their bail application.

UNBS calls upon manufacturers of face masks to seek certification

By Deo Wasswa

The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has issued new standards for facemasks and is calling upon face mask manufacturers to seek certification for their products to ensure that they meet the National quality standards.

UNBS has approved three face mask standards and five test methods for use, most especially now when the country is battling COVID-19.

The three standards (specifications) approved include; Respiratory protective devices – filtering half masks to protect against particles – requirements, testing and marking. Medical face masks that are commonly used in hospitals by medical personnel and Non- medical masks- specification

The 5 ISO test methods were adopted to support the quality assurance of the standards.

Two (2) face mask standards; Respiratory protective devices and Medical face masks are mandatory and can be accessed via https://webstore.unbs.go.ug

Non-medical mask standards will be given out by UNBS for free while people will also be allowed to use homemade non-medical masks.

Manufacturers who are also interested in making non-medical masks are advised to seek certification using this voluntary standard.

The frequent use of masks and sanitizers is one of the measures put forward by government to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

UNBS marks about 70% donated food safe for consumption

By Deo Wasswa

Close to 4000 metric tonnes of beans and 6000 of maize flour have been checked by Uganda National Bureau of Standards to ensure that the food being distributed to communities by the office of prime Minister is safe for consumption.

72% of Maize flour and 73% of beans checked have complied with the standards while 28% of maize flour and 27% of beans have failed to meet the standard.

According to the UNBS executive director, Ben Manyindo while handing over 20 million donations from the staff of Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to the COVID19 task force.

Among the other donations the body has made are free face mask standards, free sanitizer, free disinfectant as well as free technical guidance offered to local manufacturers to increase the production of quality and safe face masks and sanitizers in this period as the country fights COVID 19.

Supermarkets and bakeries closed over poor hygiene

By Deo Wasswa
The Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has intensified mandatory standards enforcement in bakeries.

In the operations, UNBS has sealed off bakery mixers of Mega Standard Supermarket (Burton Street), Capital Shoppers Supermarket (Ntinda and Nakawa branches), Tuskys supermarket (Ntinda and Nansana branches), S&S Supermarket at Nkumba Close, Outlet bakery at Freedom City,

Kaduwa supplies, Kasampa bakery at Bugwere market, Tumwebaze bakery at Indian headquarters and Golden bakery in Mbale,

Sofrah bakery in Arua, Vision Bakery in Kiboga, Masindi Masters Bakers and Homeland bakery in Masindi for not complying with standards.

This comes after a sensitization meeting held with supermarket owners on 30th October 2019, where the standards body cautioned supermarket owners against selling uncertified products.

Routine inspections of all products covered under the mandatory standards are on-going across the country and all those found working contrary to the UNBS Distinctive mark regulation, 2018 and hygiene standards will be held liable.

According to UNBS spokesperson Victoria Namutebi, owners of the affected bakeries have been summoned to their offices.

UNBS seizes alcohol sachet packaging machines

By Deo Wasswa
As a measure to enforce the government ban on alcohol sold in sachets, the Uganda National Bureau of Standards has closed over 167 sachet-filling machines belonging to at least 37 alcohol-manufacturing companies.

In an operation conducted in Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Jinja and Mitiyana, the UNBS staff also seized and confined packaging materials used in production of sachets.

The Minister of Trade Industry and Cooperatives, Hon. Amelia Kyambadde issued a directive banning the sale of alcohol in sachets effective 1st June 2019 and instituted a multi-agency task force including UNBS, Ministry of Health, Uganda Police, and National Environment Management Authority to enforce the ban.

The ban was instituted as a consumer protection measure to guard against excessive alcohol consumption especially among the youth. Before the ban, alcohol sold in sachets was readily available and affordable to the majority of the youth.

UNBS Executive Director, Dr. Ben Manyindo, said: “We are aware that by time we sealed off the machines some of the alcohol in sachets had already found its way on the market. Our market surveillance team will soon carry out raids on wholesale and retail outlets that could still be selling sachets. We are committed to enforcing standards to protect the health and safety of consumers.” He urged consumers to report cases of alcohol sold in sachets on the UNBS toll free line 0800 133 133.

UNBS closes lucky juice factory over substandard products

By Gloria Nakiyimba
Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) has closed factory premises of Sunshare Investment Limited in Mukono for failure to comply with set standards in its production processes.
The Mukono based factory has been producing Lucky brand of juices including mango, pineapple and orange flavors but laboratory analysis carried out by UNBS on product samples indicated high level of Free Chlorine in the product contrary to the requirements of the Standard for juices and other non-carbonated drinks.
Set standards dictate that, juices and non-carbonated drinks should be free from chlorine because of its adverse effects on human health since when it reacts with water  it forms acids which are poisonous to human body once consumed. If consumed this toxic substances may lead to damage of internal body organs.
According to UNBS the premises of Sunshare factory shall remain closed until when the company directors have demonstrated that they have put corrective measures in place to ensure that such contamination does happen in future. UNBS has asked the public to remain vigilant and report any cases of substandard products on the market on  0800 133 133 which is a toll free line.

UNBS embarks on electricity meter verification

By Deo Wasswa

Uganda National Bureau of standards has embarked on field operation to test and verify the accuracy of electricity meters to ensure that consumer of electricity are not cheated or cheating the quantity of electricity they  pay.

The verification exercise has started in Kampala and initially targeting 10.000 electricity meters country wide.

According to Muhwezi Godwin, the principal PRO at UNBS,  the operation is in line with 2015 electricity meter measurement regulation.

During the operation, all faulty meters will be removed and replaced by the new ones

Opposition asks government to construct new labs for UNBS

By Robert Segawa

The opposition Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) has urged the government allocate more funds to Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to save life of Ugandans that die and get disease such as cancer because of fake materials imported in the country.

The Deputy spokesperson Of Forum for Democratic change(FDC) Paul Mwiru while addressing journalists at party headquarters Najjanankumbi today said that UNBS  doesn’t have  good laboratories to check goods that imported in the country.

Mwiru adds that fake materials cost Ugandans much because they are not long lasting which he says affects economic growth in the country.

This followed the building that collapsed at Buziga Munyonyo and left unknown people trapped due to  fake building materials.

He calls upon Parliament to fulfill the 480 billion asked by UNBS to construct labs than giving them 6 billion that was a located to them in the next 2018/19  financial budget.

Trade ministry urges consumers not to be persuaded by low prices of counterfeits

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives has teamed up with Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS to take the fight against counterfeit products to the final consumers.

Despite the mandate of the Ministry and UNBS to strengthen Uganda’s economy through the promotion of quality and safe products, bulky consignments of counterfeit products find their way easily onto the local markets.

The products are consumed by unsuspecting Ugandans since they are relatively cheap compared to the genuine products. Hadijja Nakakande, the Trade Ministry Spokesperson, says they have rolled out a mass sensitisation campaign to empower consumers to fight counterfeits.

Under the campaign, the Ministry and UNBS intend to stage roadside shows and debates to educate consumers on counterfeits. Nakakande is optimistic that the intervention will implore consumers to look beyond the manufacturing and expiry dates on the products and also look at other details such as the ingredients and certification among others.

Nakakande also urged consumers to strictly examine both imported and locally made products they buy at any time so that they can get value for their money.

Barbra Kamusiime, the UNBS spokesperson, says they intend to mobilise all stakeholders to fight this illicit practice. She is optimistic that many Ugandans will embrace the campaign since many are victims of counterfeits.

Swaibuh Wamala, a shoe dealer in Masaka town wants the Ministry to step up surveillance at all porous border points if the campaign is to register success. According to Wamala, most of the fake products are smuggled into the country through the porous borders.

The UNBS Act was amended in 2015 to increase the fine of those found guilty of trading in counterfeit products from 250,000 to Shillings 10 million with an appropriate imprisonment sentence.