We support the GSA to crack the whip

BY: Daily Graphic
Professor Alexander Nii Oto Dodoo
Professor Alexander Nii Oto Dodoo

Tonnes of used electrical appliances, second-hand clothes, mattresses and other used items from the developed world come to the ports of Ghana each year.

Workers and students go in for these items because they are much cheaper than new ones in the shops, and often, they are of substandard quality.

The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) has cautioned the public against the purchase and use of substandard electrical cables on the market, warning that those cables can lead to fire outbreaks.

The GSA says it recently conducted a random test on 20 brands of imported electrical cables on the market in Accra and found that 19 of them failed its critical test.

The inability of those cables to pass the test means they pose a danger to life and can easily catch fire.

Importers of substandard electrical cables will not give up on the business, given the high margin of profit on the trade.

It is estimated that the value of counterfeited electrical products is in the region of US$250 billion per year, while the World Customs Organisation identified counterfeit products destined for 140 countries.

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Worldwide, counterfeiting alone costs the electrical products industry US$600 billion each year.

As the counterfeiters perfect ways of beating the regulatory agencies, so are the agencies perfecting ways of stopping them in their tracks.

Apart from battling the menace of fake and substandard cables in the system, we are also contending with the effects of used mattresses, imported textiles and used wares from abroad.

Ghana, in 2011, banned the sale of second-hand underwear, handkerchiefs and mattresses due to rising health concerns.

But despite the ban, the products are still on sale due to the high consumer demand because the products are cheaper than locally produced items.

That, for us, is a cause for concern because, according to 2013 figures from the United Nations Comtrade Database, Ghana spent $65 million on imported used clothes from the UK.

Apart from the economic pressure on our foreign exchange, there are also job losses, as most of the textile and other local industries will not find market for their produce, which in effect causes the companies to lose revenue, leading to cuts in jobs.

For instance, Ghana’s textile and clothing employment fell by 80 per cent between 1975 and 2000.

The ban on used mattresses and substandard cables is to allow local manufacturers gain access to larger markets and expand their operations to create jobs for the unemployed.

It is also to avoid the dangers associated with the use of non-sanitised used mattresses.

To nip this canker in the bud and prevent the entry of contraband and substandard products into the country, the Daily Graphic calls on the government to train and equip customs officers to monitor the various frontiers to check the influx of these products into the country.

We also encourage the security agencies to continue to be vigilant to protect the health and lives of consumers.

The regulatory agencies should also intensify their market surveillance to ensure that products on the market are wholesome and meet quality standards.

It is also important for consumers to properly examine products, including medicines, to be sure of their quality and the expiry date before buying.

It is our view that when these laws and rules are strictly enforced and adhered to by all, Ghana will be a safe place for all.