Tuesday, April 14, 2015

WMA wants new legislature to curb with cheatings

THE Weight and Measures Agency (WMA) has sent an appeal requesting the government to make a review on the current laws used to curb with cheatings being practiced by some traders who tampers with weights of various products to give wrong measurements of such goods for sale. The agency’s senior advocate and a lawyer Moses Mbunda said mid this week in Dar es Salaam that, his agency is in need of new laws so that it might be able to curb with the high increase rate of cheatings on various measures being practiced by unfaithful traders across the country. He said the current laws are less severe in terms of punishments and moreover are outdated an aspect which makes scores of unfaithful traders to continue practicing cheatings on the various commodities while knowing that even if are caught read handed would end up paying little fines. “The current laws are not so strong according to the nature of the offenses committed as this involves little fines of between Sh. 10,000/- and Sh.20,000/-or three years imprisonment, an aspect that most of them are able to pay fines”, he said. However, he is optimistic that if the law is reviewed and harsh punishments are imposed, then it would deter others into committing mistakes of cheatings on weights and measures on the course of their trading activities. Advocate Mbunda also spoke of the fate of  incorrect measures given on liquid products such as petrol and diesels at filling stations and noted that, there are some pumping stations which tamper with their pumping machines at various fuel stations in the country. He noted that, in spite of impromptu regular inspections carried out in these fuel stations, many owners have been caught to have tampered with their pumping machines but resort to pay such little fines without failure and left to continue doing the same to their customers, the habit that is against the law. Mbunda has also directed all district and municipal councils in the country to impose a bylaw through local government authority Act that would suppress the overloading of sacks popularly known ‘Lumbesa’ in Kiswahili. He said there is a growing habit by some procurement officers in the country who forces over weight capacity described as ‘lumpesa’ which ironically is a form of exploitation that is not in accordance with the measurement standard margins accepted by the WMA. According to him, WMA has discovered that such overweight capacities are not within the schedule margins proposed by WMA in regard to the types of a product to be purchased.  He illustrated with example that the required weight standards for one sack of maize or millet weighs between 95 and 100 kilogrammes and shouldn’t exceed that amount. Other products range between 50 and 75 kilogrammes depending on the volumes set of the products purchased such as onions sweet potatoes, sardines and many others which are voluminous in size. But to his great dismay he is surprised to see that most traders and purchasing officers do choose their own measurements contrary to these standards, and allows Lumbesa that is weighed over between 120 and 130 kilogrammes depending on types of products. However, he has warned to procurement officers who have the habit of forcing farmers when they go for procurements of any types of food crops in rural areas to stop immediately as what they are practising is not in accordance with the WMA rules and regulations. He noted that, if found their arrest is in accordance to section 46 (1) of Weights and Measures Act of 2002 that aimed to protect consumers in fair and just trade from exploitation. Hardly three months ago, the Agency’s Chief Executive Officer, Magdalena Chuwa was quoted by the media and admitted that, the agency has been facing a serious shortage of staff to move countrywide on timely basis to supervise measuring scale instruments. In view of this, she asked the consumers must help double check the accuracy of scales and other measuring gadgets when purchasing products at different stores and business centres. The WMA is an agency working under the umbrella of the ministry of Trade and Industry which is charged with consumer protection through ensuring measuring systems result in fair trade transactions. The agency is mandated to provide protection to consumers in relation to legal metrological control which includes legal control of measuring instruments.

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