Counterfeit and illicit goods including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics and alcoholic drinks valued at over Rwf140 million have been seized in an operation conducted by Rwanda National Police (RNP).
The operation codenamed ‘Fagia OPSON II’ was conducted under the auspice of the international police – Interpol.
Other counterfeit and illicit products seized in a two-day countrywide operation conducted on December 15th and 16th, include foods and beverages, agro-chemicals, powdered milk, insecticide, and liquors.
Speaking at the event to disseminate results of the Operation, on December 30, Commissioner of Police (CP) Emmanuel Butera, the Commissioner for Operations and Public Order in RNP, said that the products were seized from 83 shops, especially in the City of Kigali.
“The seized products pose threat to people’s lives,” CP Butera said.
“These results indicate that we need to work even harder in ensuring we get such products off the market completely. Every Rwandan should take part in fighting these products by ensuring they check the expiration dates of every product, how they are sealed and if they are stored as per the instructions,” he added.
The operation came as an implementation of the recommendation made by the 17th General Assembly of the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs’ Corporation Organization (EAPCCO) that recognized the need to sustain the tempo in the fight against transnational crimes that affect the people’s lives and weaken economies.
CP Butera pointed out that such counterfeit products need to be wiped out of the market to prevent the ill-effects they are likely to cause to consumers, which he said that this can as well be a security concern if not addressed.
Last year, the Ministry of Health released a list of 1342 illegal ingredients used in cosmetics, among those include excess hydroquinone.
Among the products that were seized include some body lotions and bathing soaps that has 2% of hydroquinone yet the standard one is 0.003 percent.
According to the Ministry of Health, such substances can be very dangerous to an extent of causing cancer.
Part of the seized products in “Fagia-OPSON II” operations included agricultural products like fertilizer and according to Ministry of Agriculture, fake products can have enormous dangers not only to people but also affect soil nutrients and production in general, the atmosphere and water bodies.
The operation also involved other stakeholders like the ministries of Trade and Industry, Agriculture and Health; Private Sector Federation (PSF), Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), Rwanda Standards Board (RSB) and representatives of brand owners.
The Ag Commissioner for Interpol in RNP, ACP Peter Karake, said: “We conduct these operations as part of ensuring public safety; security starts with individual’s welfare and health… we are currently sensitizing the public and traders against such products but in future we will impose serious punitive measures against anyone dealing in such hazardous products,” ACP Karake said.
“Jointly with all stakeholders we have enhanced detective mechanisms and we are conducting more operations to curtail sell and use of such dangerous products. In the same spirit we will propose tougher punitive measures to save our innocent communities who consume them unknowingly,” he added.
Substandard and counterfeit goods are said to be affecting business as well, as they are sold cheaply on the market.