KEBS denies involvement in tendering process of substandard gas cylinders

Acting KEBS MD Esther Ngari when she appeared before a National Assembly committee at County Hall Mini chambers, Nairobi. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) has denied any involvement in the tendering process of substandard gas cylinders.

KEBS, in a statement dated Friday, August 11, was responding to reports that it does not test Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) cylinders that were later found to be substandard.

The standards bureau instead clarified that it was not aware of any flaws in the products, and that their remarks before a Parliamentary Committee early in the week were “taken out of context.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, KEBS was not involved in the tendering process that led to the procurement of substandard products. Moreover, the statement that products with the Diamond Mark of Quality are not subjected to inspection and not tested upon arrival at the port of entry was taken out of context because it was clearly explained, that a diamond mark is a superior mark issued only after compliance to a rigorous process,” KEBS said.

On Thursday, August 10, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) summoned KEBS Acting Managing Director Esther Ngari to explain why the government spent Sh125 million on defective LPG cylinders in the 2020/2021 Financial Year.

In her defense, Ngari said that: “It is the responsibility of the person manufacturing a product covered by KEBS to comply with the requirement of the standards.”

She further admitted that they only inspect the premises of manufacturers who meet the threshold provided for in The Standards Act, before issuing them with a Diamond Mark of Quality.

Her responses led to the members of the committee scolding her with the chair John Mbadi demanding that KEBS officials be held accountable for exposing the lives of the people they are employed to protect.

In their defense, KEBS said that the statement that products with the Diamond Mark of Quality do not undergo inspection was misconstrued and that all products sold locally are tested.

“Product certification is carried out after due diligence is done on the manufacturer and the product. The process involves rigorous inspections and evaluation of the manufacturer’s premises, sampling and testing the products and signing a certification contract. The Diamond Mark of Quality is only issued after the process.”

The regulatory body also added that in the current financial year, it has conducted over 60,000 tests on consumer products.

Additionally, the Mark of Quality only signifies the manufacturer’s capability to consistently produce compliant products over the minimum requirements set and is voluntary.

“What is mandatory is the Standardization Mark of Quality (SMark) which manufacturers must acquire before releasing a product into the market,” the statement ended.