Mr. Yormah made this disclosure while updating journalists on the Bureau’s responsibility of coordinating Standardization and Quality Management. He was speaking at the weekly Ministry of Information and Communication press conference held at Youyi Building in Freetown.
The Standards Bureau is a quality promoting and mainstreaming institution basing its work on solution delivery in metrology, standardization, conformity testing and certification.
He added that the institution has only two border entries: the Queen Elizabeth II Quay and the Gbalamunya Checkpoint on Guinea/Sierra Leone border crossing point. He cited that the challenge the Bureau faces at the Quay is that they are not given adequate space to meaningful do quality inspection and so at least 60-70% of the containers leave the premises without undergoing thorough quality inspection.
“Any substandard good contained in those containers that escapes our inspection regime can enter the market without our knowledge,” he lamented.
He further said that, their observation is that the lack of quality goods and services is the major hurdle to the effective participation of Sierra Leone and other West African states to World Trade which is a constraint to economic and social development.
Low capacity to robustly test and ascertain the quality status of imported and locally produced goods and services is another reason why the West African region has become the dumping ground of substandard goods and services with negative impact on human health and the environment.
He stated that one of their key mandates is the protection of human health, the economy and the environment from the negative impacts of substandard products.
“We are presently under-resourced to the extent that we lack the resource to mount a robust and effective border Quality Inspection and Market Surveillance,” he added.
Responding to questions, the Manager for Inspection at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay Mohamed Osman Bah noted that some people are refusing inspection of their containers, adding that if they allow them to inspect their containers 80% would not have proper documentation for quality.
“The situation we have now is that they do not have quality and conformity certificates to bring their goods into the country,” he stressed.
He added that importers are supposed to submit their safety manual, warranty, bill of lading, manifest and manufacture declaration, adding that it is based on the manifest that they will know what is coming into the country but they have been harassed to inspect certain containers.
“They will start calling people for us and say we don’t need to check this container as it has gone through Customs forgetting that Customs parameters are different from ours,” he said.
Most of containers according to Mr. Bah do not have certificate of acceptance from the Standards Bureau.