Importers have called on the Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) to speed up the process of contracting new firms to inspect products being imported into the country under the Imports Products Conformity Assessment to Standards (IPCA) scheme, saying the delay is causing them losses.
Under the IPCA scheme, a firm(s) certified by RSB inspects all products bound for Rwanda from the country of origin before they are shipped. If the goods meet standards, they are cleared and the importer issued a certificate of conformity to standards or rejects them if they don’t.
Presently, only Société Générale de Surveillance (SGS), a Switzerland-based firm, which was contracted by RSB about two years ago, does the job.
However, importers have for long been complaining of bureaucracy and inefficiency on the part of SGS. The importers also urged that the exercise to get more inspection firms has taken long, calling on RSB to fast-track the process.
Paul Ruhamya, an importer, said the delay in contracting more inspection companies is causing frustration among business people, with the resultant losses.
“When there are delays in inspection of goods, they won’t get to the market on time, which often translates into losses.” He noted that the idea of bringing on board more firms was to facilitate the ease of doing business through increased efficiency and competitiveness.
Timothy Subika, the SRB Investment Company imports manager, said monopoly in scheme will continue to hurt importers, adding that SGS also charges unexplained fees.
Alex Gasangwa, another importer, said the standards body should have hired more than one firm from the beginning to ensure smooth running of the scheme. He argued that one firm cannot have the capacity to have presence in every part of the world.
Last year, the standards agency run adverts calling for more firms for the job as part of the steps to address the issue. The exercise, however, seems to have stalled over six months since the advert was published. The agency said at the time that it wanted to diversify the service to cover more countries and boost efficiency.
The New Times has, however, reliably learnt that three companies have been contracted for the job, and could start work next month.
Philip Nzaire, the RSB quality assurance director, confirmed the development, saying the standards body and the three firms are still negotiating the terms of the contracts. “We have selected three firms, but we are still negotiating the terms of the contracts,” Nzaire, who is also in charge of the project, said.
He was, however, reluctant to reveal the names of the firms. Once the two parties sign a deal, the inspection firms will operate for one year, renewable. They will be based in China, Europe, Australia, America, Africa and the Middle East, which are currently being served by SGS.