For an organisation that is well known for cracking down on especially counterfeiters, the Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) had rather taken too long to stretch their mandate to cover businesses that use weighing scales.
So it comes as very good news that come July 21, RBS will turn its attention to this particular area of counterfeiting.
Patrice Ntiyamira, the head of the metrology unit at the standards agency has vowed that only approved weighing scales will be allowed to be used.
This is as it should be, because anyone who has ever shopped in Rwanda knows the types of weighing scales used in markets and shops, and they are left in no doubt that this is an area that the authorities have not yet applied themselves more vigorously.
The most popular type of weighing scale found in the markets and shops that weighs basic home commodities like sugar, flour, rice and other types of food, is the one with a clock-like face, commonly called Five Goats.
No one ever goes away from the shop without thinking that they have been cheated, because the scale is always manually adjusted to zero before weighing something, and in most cases gets stuck after each transaction and therefore needs a fresh adjustment.
These scales were banned from Kenya and Uganda many years ago, and it was a matter of time that they were done away with here.
In times when there are escalating costs for commodities, traders get the temptation to deal unfairly, and it is common to cut proper weights and measures.
Where traders can’t increase prices without sending away their poor customers, they just cheat them by giving them less the exact amounts; they do this by tampering with their weighing machines.
Seeing that these fake weighing machines are the only ones that abound here, RBS needs to deal fairly with the traders by offering them alternatives on credit terms. This is identifying a problem and offering solutions for it.
RBS’s efforts to hold tip-top standards are applauded, as they are the only voice that the consumer falls back on for protection against dishonest businessmen.