In our last Issue’s Cover Story, we narrowed on the impact of thriving contraband trade on our manufacturing sector. The lid has since been blown off the can of the counterfeit business, revealing the other side of it that our story did not delve in – safety and health. The ensuing debate on the possibility that the sugar in our living rooms is not fit for human consumption is as chilling as it is shocking.
It goes to reveal the extent to which the country is exposed in the trending trade. Isn’t it absurd that in the case of sugar, debate has stuck with safety, other than the impact of the trade on the local sugar industry?
The sporadic pouncing on, impounding and destroying of counterfeits in various parts of the country that we’ve witnessed since the beginning of 2018 is good, but is not enough to stem the menace.
Other than destroying illegal goods and deporting those involved in illegal trade, the government needs to do more especially in ensuring that they stop these goods from entering the country. State agencies such as the Kenya Ports Authority (KPA), Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) need to answer questions on how the illegal goods entered into the country without being flagged.
There has been a high rise of counterfeit goods in the country, which raises concerns on whether the agencies mandated to ensure these goods do not enter the Kenyan market are really up to the task. Not just that, one also wonders whether the same agencies are complicit in the illegal trade, facilitating its flourish rather than fighting it. As a result of these agencies’ failures, it is estimated that fake goods are costing the country over Sh100 billion in direct revenues annually, not to mention the deadly consequences of the poor, more often, hazardous quality. Talk of ongoing constructions crumbling because of poor quality hardware, poor quality electrical appliances sparking of fires in buildings. How about impact of poor health on the population as a result of feeding on bad quality consumables? There’s now talk of plastic rice and eggs on the shelves.
With these counterfeit goods having passed the port, gotten to different warehouses all over the country and gotten to the shelves where every Kenyan has been able to access, it is clear that either the right authorities are not doing their work or that they have become complicit. In order to ensure this is not the case, the government needs to take control and do away with any officials that are found responsible, either by omission or commission, for allowing these products to the market.