Agencies have warned traders against dealing on substandard products saying that they risk being prosecuted and or blacklisted by government.
The agencies comprising of the Uganda Police, Kampala City Traders Association (Kacita) and local organization, Stop Counterfeit Products Africa (SCP) have launched countrywide operation to impound and arrest culprits in counterfeit product dealing.
Kampala Metropolitan Police Spokesperson, Patrick Onyango said the operations seek to enforce an April 9, 2019 resolution by East African Police chiefs to blacklist traders found with counterfeit products.
Addressing the media in Kampala, Onyango said that they have landed on a number of counterfeit products which have been taken to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) for testing before they can arrest the perpetrators.
He said the operations were sanctioned by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Martin Okoth Ochola and Interpol Uganda to curb counterfeit products which are stifling the economy.
“This operation is intelligence-led so by the time we come to the store or factory, we already have the information. We have not arrested any suspect so far because testing of these products takes some time and the 48 hour rule cannot allow us to hold somebody until the results from the laboratory are out, but we shall surely arrest and take them to court,” Onyango said.
KACITA Spokesperson Isa Sekitto urged politicians to stay away from the operation because this is an economic general cause which does not discriminate.
“I call upon fellow traders to support this operation because if today you sell a fake product, be sure you will also buy a fake one as you go home. Quality and standards are for us all,” he said.
He said the economy has been killed because of counterfeits and even genuine traders have started thinking of dealing in counterfeit.
According to Sekitto, the main sources of substandard products are China, Japan, Taiwan and Dubai but when they mention them in the media they complain yet they never stop dumping counterfeits in Uganda.
UNBS statistics show that 54 percent of products on the Ugandan market are either fake or substandard and lots of these are locally made.
In 2017, 232 metric tons of counterfeits goods worth Shs1.7 billion were seized by UNBS and another 48 tonns worth Shs950 million were destroyed between July and December 2017.
The Managing Partner Stop Counterfeits Products- Africa (SCP) Allan Mulindwa said the target of the operation is to close all routes bringing counterfeit products.
He said they are aware of many traders who are bribing their way into acquiring Pre-export Verification for Conformity (PIVOC) permits while others just dupe Inspection officials by placing a few genuine products on top of the counterfeits while some just buy the PIVOC from colleagues.
“We take this opportunity to warn traders that you take personal responsibility for the goods you import and UNBS which issues PIVOC will not be there to defend you if you are found with a fake product,” he said.
He said that URA has been alerted to blacklist any brand or company that is dealing in counterfeits and this is going to be done through following their Tax Identification Numbers.
He said they have resolved that traders especially those who violate safety standards especially those who erase expiry dates, import unlabeled products with terrorism because the action of selling an expired drug or product can cause death of many innocent people.
“Imagine if you sold a counterfeit car tyre to a bus driver and it busts before it reaches its destination, do you know how many innocent lives that tyre could have claimed? Is that not terrorism!” Mulindwa wondered.