NSI gunning for review of Act

The Namibian Standards Institution (NSI) is gunning for a review of the Namibian regulatory framework to empower itself when dealing with the proliferation of substandard goods on the local market.

NSI Chief Executive Officer Chie Wasserfall said the review will synchronise all national technical regulations, and also rid the organisation of the ‘toothless bulldog’ tag which consumers associate them with when they fail to act on offenders.

“Currently, the NSI’s Standards Act of 2005 limits the institution from regulating the quality of products it inspects. Corrective actions are normally instituted immediately after the instruments are found to be non-compliant. This is done through the repair or calibration of the instruments by mechanics, who are registered and supervised by the NSI,” Wasserfall explained.

At the moment, it is measuring instruments which are inspected or verified, especially fuel pumps (liquid fuel dispensers) and weighbridges.

“Between NSI and the party concerned/seller, an agreement is reached on how and when the corrective action will be undertaken.

In the specific cases where the NSI has issued a stop sale to a seller for non-compliant products, these products have been immediately removed from the shelves and have not been encountered on the market during the time the stop sale was in effect,” she stated.

In the past three years, the NSI discovered that 16% of the fuel pumps inspected were noncompliant, whereas 10% of the weighbridges inspected were found to be non-compliant.

“The NSI believes that the inspection of pre-packed goods is most effective when implemented within the context of a market surveillance and import inspection programme, and supported internationally-accepted voluntary self-regulation schemes such as the e-marking of products which are subject to legal metrology control,” she noted.

She added that with pre-packed goods, a stop sale is issued immediately, and the goods are allowed to be sold only after the NSI is satisfied with corrective action taken by the seller.

“However, some inspections have been conducted on various products on an ad-hoc basis, e.g. bottled water, bread, rice, sugar, fruits & vegetables, stock feed and yoghurt.

As already stated, in terms of the Trade Metrology Act, this is inspection for compliance to the labelling of declared quantities and for compliance to the tolerances of the net quantities packed.

This does not look at ingredients or quality/ health-related regulations,” Wasserfall said. The NSI was mandated through the transfer of the Legal Metrology function from the Ministry of Industrialisation, Trade and SME Development, effective April 2011.

It is mandated to inspect products which are pre-packaged for sale, and they are carried out in terms of the Trade Metrology Act to ensure that the labelling of the quantities of products declared are according to regulations, and the net quantities are within limits as prescribed by the Act.

Wasserfall noted that the packing material must not be part of the declared quantity, reiterating that the inspection in terms of health or the quality of products is not covered by the Trade Metrology Act. She further noted that the NSI is also mandated to verify measuring instruments used for trade (prescribed purposes).

“For example, the NSI verifies that a fuel pump is delivering the correct quantity in litres. The NSI verifies the scales being used in retail stores to ensure they are providing the accurate measurements. Thus, the NSI ensures that, for example, the 2 kg of meat purchased in a butchery is of the correct quantity (2 kg).

The Act also provides for the approval of measuring instruments used for trade (prescribed purposes),” she reiterated. “The NSI registers and supervises instrument mechanics who supply, repair, maintain and calibrate measuring instruments used for trade (prescribed purposes).

Examples of measuring instruments currently verified by the NSI include Scales (counter, livestock, road/rail) and Liquid Measuring devices (meters, fuel dispensers, volume measures). The Act also provides for the verification of water meters, electricity meters, length-measuring instruments and instruments for road traffic & safety (evidential breath analysers & speedmeasuring devices), for which capacity is yet to be developed by the NSI”, she added.