Gracing the ceremony, Dr. Braima James from the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture said that looking at the current status of the Bureau much improvement has been done by the Bureau to move away from its old ways of doing things to that of international best practice.
Dr. James noted that the Bureau is on the right track with neighboring countries in the implementation of the International Standards Organizations (ISO) and much effort should be made by the Bureau to create awareness to Sierra Leoneans to know the concerted efforts they are making.
Giving his address, the Executive Director, Professor B. R. Yormah said that the celebration is an opportunity to continue the re-branding of the Bureau with the view to attract public confidence and trust which they exist to render.
Professor Yormah used the occasion to dilate on challenges with regards to the ‘Landing/Acceptance Inspection operations at the Queen Elizabeth II Quay. He said that the Bureau’s Inspectors had complained that they don’t have the requisite space in the chain of events involved in the clearing of goods at the Port which has made 80% of goods not to be inspected by staff of the Bureau for safety standards before leaving the Port. This according to him has made the public to accuse them of not doing their job because of the influx of expired goods in the country.
“The fact is that the Bureau is not featured in the mandatory paperwork required to be processed by importers during the clearing of their goods. The resulting collateral damage is that the Bureau is unfairly blamed for the presence of substandard goods-including expired products in the markets,” he said.
On the issue of the mandate of the Bureau, Professor Yormah said that their legal duties have been “hijacked’ and given to a private company called Africa Links who now seems to be usurping some of our functions”.
He said that Africa Links could have been providing requisite quick testing training and field kits for staff of the Bureau to be used at the landing points but that was never done and they continue to collect the bulk of their fees.
He welcomed the idea of the Ministry of Trade for supermarkets to allocate and dedicate stalls for Made in Sierra Leone products but at the same time the Bureau will not be sacrificing its standards all in the names of Local content policy.
Representing the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), Madam Mariatu Swaray said that the day is celebrated to pay tributes to the collaborative efforts of thousands of experts worldwide who have developed the voluntary technical agreements that are published as International Standards.
She said that Standards continue to play pivotal role in society as innovators rely on standards to ensure compatibility and interoperability for the adopting of their products.
Representing the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Merewether Thompson said that through standards impose quality, manufacturers and supply of goods and services have become more efficient, environments have become safer, healthier and cleaner and countries are better positioned to achieve the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals from climate change to energy efficiency.
He said that government places high priority on the establishment of National Quality Infrastructure Model with standardization, metrology, testing and conformity systems as its building blocks.
He informed that pretty soon it will be mandatory for all supermarkets to start selling locally certified products.
Representatives from the Consumer Protection Agency, civil societies, NATCOM, NRA, PRA, Local Content Agency and Importers Union commended the efforts of the Bureau for improving the standards of products in the country.