BOBS Incorporates Public as Foot Soldiers
In its continued bid to promote quality assurance and standardisation, and facilitate their implementation with a view to improving industrial competitiveness and efficiency to enhance trade and protect consumer and the environment, Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) has embarked on incorporating the public on their fold to serve the nation more effectively.
Through its publicity campaign aimed at spreading the word of “Standards for a better Botswana”, BOBS began its tour of the northern part of the country at Nata village on Tuesday this week to sensitise the public about the organisation’s products and services.
The first leg of the tour is expected to be completed on March 3rd , 2011 at Selibe-Phikwe would see BOBS camping in Masunga and Francistown early next month as BOBS has stepped up its public awareness efforts with a national campaign aimed at making the organisation and its work more widely known.
During a fairly attended mini show at Nata main kgotla on Tuesday morning, BOBS Marketing and Communications Manager Mr. Peter Mpete said the objective is to increase lively public awareness efforts throughout the country and further explain the difference between compulsory and voluntary standards.
Mr. Mpete revealed that BOBS is important to both the youth and elders of this country through its Compulsory Standards function where the organisation implements legislation to protect the consumer as well as the trader. Mr. Mpete disclosed that BOBS’ objective through the compulsory standards legislation is to keep a sharp eye on the quality of the imported and locally produced goods aimed at being consumed by Batswana.
“The legislation was introduced to control both prescribed imports and locally produced goods in terms of quality. It was introduced to curb the production of under-quality products and influx of inferiority goods into the country. Business operators not adhering to the compulsory standards might be forced to close in a bid to protect the consumer,” said Mr. Mpete amid a thunderous round of applause from the attendance. This refers to prescribed products which has health and safety impact to both the consumer and environment.
Mr. Mpete urged members of the Nata community to be the foot soldiers in the fight against proliferation of inferiority products and non-adherence to compulsory standards by traders since standardisation is fundamental to the quality of life. He urged them to exercise their rights when purchasing, as well as pricing for relevant in order to ensure this.He encouraged the public to be always vigilant and check for a quality mark in products they purchase.
The marketing and communications manager further disclosed that the consumers have got every right to be afforded an opportunity to view the weighing of the products especially in butcheries.
“It is the desire of every country that her consumers are protected and produce high quality products in order to compete with other traders across the globe. And this starts by adhering to standardisation and quality assurance. This issue of standardisation is important to both the consumers and traders. For consumers, it plays a significant role in helping households with issues of budgeting as one would last longer with same products while traders enjoy customer retention and ability to compete with others on the world market,” explained Mr. Mpete.
He explained the issue of Chinese traders still trading in Botswana although they are at times accused of selling substandard products in their shops. According to him Chinese products are still allowed in the country because Botswana is a member of the Word Trade Organisation (WTO) and under the WTO agreements; countries should avoid barrier to trade with others through stringent standardisation legislation. Nevertheless, Mr. Mpete clarified that consumers have got the right of choice and cannot be forced to buy substandard products.
For his part, Kgosi Rebagamang Rancholo of Nata village said the move taken by BOBS to step up its public awareness efforts is a most welcome development especially to those in the rural areas.
Kgosi Rancholo revealed that the mini exhibition is very important to the Nata community, which are far from cities since the people there are not usually exposed to information in relation to quality.
“This development is most welcome. As community leaders, we have been receiving a number of complaints from consumers but due to lack of knowledge and information, it was difficult to take an appropriate action. The address made by BOBS’ official have opened our eyes and improved the level of understanding on quality and consumer rights. We are going to be on the lookout for the BOBS stamps in businesses and products. I am hopeful that message will spread like a veldt fire to the core of the village,” he promised.
Nata Village Extension Team chairperson Mr. Kenny Lowani hailed BOBS for educating the community and promised to continue working hand in glove with the rest of the village members in equipping them with information on quality.
“Through our joint meetings with the Village Development Committee (VDC), we will continue educating consumers and businesspeople about the importance of adhering to quality. People can die from food poisoning after buying an expired product. But this could have been avoided if both the consumer and trader adhered to quality issues,” he said.
Different attendees at the mini show described the publicity campaign as an eye opener that would go a long way in protecting the consumers.
“Although it is not formal, we are now partners with BOBS. We are going to be committed to working together with BOBS to raise awareness and implementing the legislation on compulsory standards. It is our fervent hope that the rest of the country would partner with BOBS in ensuring quality assurance,” said Mrs. Keitumetsi Masuku, a Nata resident.