By Thomas Kagera
As Rwanda joins the world to celebrate the 2013 World Consumer’s Day under the theme “Fix our phone Rights”, it is time to reflect how every one of us the vendor and the consumer have worked towards the realization of consumer protection.
Consumption of any service and utilization of any commodity should not come with any compromise on safety. That is why the government of Rwanda should be commended for its tremendous efforts in putting in place policies to regulate competition and monitor quality standards of consumables.
The establishment of the competition and consumer protection policy in 2010, followed by the enactment of associated laws in 2012 are some of the legal frameworks that have helped uphold the values of ensuring safety of the consumers.
Prior to the formulation of consumer protection policy and law, many traders were abusing the free market policy, fixing their own prices and forming cartels to prevent other investors from penetrating the market. All Rwandans recall bad practices by some trading cooperatives of Irish potatoes with long chain of intermediaries between the smallholder producer and final consumer which led to high prices while the producer was getting very little.
The same bad practices were in various sectors such as transport, communication, construction, health, food and beverages sectors. Kigali dwellers will remember how any time commuters could fix prices on their own under the pretext of high price of fuel while pharmacies around the city of Kigali were mushrooming without proper regulations and required standards for drugs that were being sold.