Consumer protection agencies can do better

The Anti Counterfeit Authority (ACA) has told Kenyans to be on the lookout for counterfeit products in the market. According to the agency, most of the goods on sale here are fake.

The agency has launched a countrywide campaign to educate Kenyans on the dangers of selling or buying such goods. Such a campaign is most welcome.

As ACA Chair Flora Mutahi has noted, counterfeit goods such as food are dangerous and can cause diseases, including cancer.

Sale of counterfeit goods is as old as this country. Our shop shelves are awash with counterfeits of virtually all products; from electronic products, to human and animals’ medicines, farm inputs, name it.

Last year, a joint survey by Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) and Kenyatta University established that at least 40 per cent of antibiotics sold in Nairobi were substandard. Other fake medicines have been found in pharmacies too.

In 2019 Kenyans were jolted by reports that substandard fertiliser containing mercury had found its way into the market.

While enlightening Kenyans on fakes is a good idea, it is clear that the authorities charged with ensuring consumers get only quality products are sleeping on the job. The truth of the matter is that most of the said goods pass through our ports. Clearly, they are not scrutinised well by agencies such as the Kenya Bureau of Standards.

The authorities concerned, and which are funded by taxpayers money, should bear the bulk of the blame over the counterfeit goods, some which have killed Kenyans, albeit silently. They must pull up their socks.

The importance of protecting consumers is underscored by the Constitution (Article 46). Consumer Protection Act 2012 gave full effect to this provision. The government has no excuse for exposing Kenyans to danger through fake goods.