Kebs declares bottled water a high-risk product

The MD Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBs) Charles Ongwae addresses the press at Simba Lodge in Naivasha during a two day workshop for media personnel on the organization performance and fight against sub-standard goods. Pix By Antony Gitonga

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has listed bottled water as high-risk due to high number of unlicensed bottling companies.

According to Kebs, there are 600 legalised water-bottling plants in the country but the number of illegal ones could be higher than that.

Kebs Managing Director Charles Ongwae said plans were at an advanced stage to introduce a local secured standardisation mark.

He added that the mark would help consumers differentiate between local and imported water and also lock out sub-standard goods.

"We shall meet players in the water-bottling sector on Wednesday to discuss the future of the industry and ensure that standards are met," he said.

Mr Ongwae was speaking at Simba Lodge in Naivasha during a two-day workshop for media personnel on the organisation's performance and fight against sub-standard goods. In a bid to curb importation of sub-standard and counterfeit products, Ongwae said an inter-agency committee had been formed.

The agency with representatives from various State bodies had officers at all entry points in the country with the mandate of locking out any sub-standard products.

"We need to observe standards as they facilitate trade and they protect the consumers against harmful products," he said.

He said that the secured import standardisation mark, which was launched in November last year, would come into effect on July 1 as planned.

Ongwae said the new mark targeted imported goods, adding that it would help manage sub-standard imports. The MD said the agency was committed to addressing the issue of sub-standard and counterfeit goods infiltrating the Kenyan market, adding that the country was losing millions of shillings to the imports.

"We have introduced the SMS programme where a consumer can easily know the validity of a certain product through the use of a mobile phone," he said.

Ongwae warned importers who delayed in collecting their goods from the port that they risked hefty fines.