Consumers pay the price as country awash with fake products
Life today means a daily encounter with fake products, right from the cooking ingredients in the kitchen to the electronic appliances waiting to blow up in the living room.
The ongoing war on counterfeits has exposed the ravenous nature of unscrupulous traders conspiring with authorities to put the lives of consumers at risk for a profit.
Since May, contraband goods worth Sh1.2 billion have been netted by a Government multi-agency team comprising officials from the Kenya Revenue Authority, Anti-Counterfeit Agency and Kenya Bureau of Standards as well as security officers.
The team, led by Deputy Head of Public Service Wanyama Musiambo, is also tasked with unearthing goods under-valued for tax evasion purposes.
Data from the Anti-Counterfeit Authority shows that at least Sh840 million worth of fakes are seized annually.
And since 2014, Sh652 million worth of fake goods have been destroyed.
Twenty-five people have been prosecuted so far, with the majority of counterfeits being electronic goods.
Consumer Federation of Kenya (Cofek) chairman Stephen Mutoro said the agencies tasked with stemming the flow of contraband goods had failed.
“Consumers are on their own; they are not safe at all. Government has forfeited its role in ensuring quality inspection because of corruption.”
Mr Mutoro said counterfeiters played smart by targeting fast-moving consumer goods such as sugar and cooking oil.
He said the only solution was for the public to boycott certain products or avoid them altogether, adding that Cofek had linked the rise in cancer cases to the importation of radioactive products.
Mutoro also accused established manufacturers of cashing in on the multi-billion shilling counterfeit trade.
“The majority of counterfeits are imported. Local production, even for counterfeits, is expensive. Because of lower prices, they buy bad products cheaply and sell them at the same or slightly lower prices to make more money here in Kenya.”
But Mr Musiambo said the Government would continue fighting the sub-standard goods, adding that success would greatly benefit the local manufacturing industry.
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