The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has seized 1.2 million Royal Philips-branded light bulbs declared substandard because they failed to meet the durability and output specifications stated by their makers.
The bulbs, estimated to be worth Sh50 million, were seized from one of the 13 companies that import the products following persistent consumer complaints on social media.
Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae said the distributor had been given a fortnight to defend himself before the substandard bulbs are destroyed.
“Samples were drawn from the distributor’s enterprises and laboratory analysis found that they did not meet life and light output standards that are important parameters for bulbs,” Mr Ongwae said, adding that the distributor has 14 days to appeal to the Standards Tribunal with evidence of compliance “failure to which the bulbs will be destroyed in accordance with the Standards Act.”
Philips, a widely popular electronics brand in Kenya, manufactures a range of products, including dry irons, kettles, blenders, baby bottles and lighting products such as TLD (tubes), starters and energy saving lamps.
The company’s Nairobi-based subsidiary has contracted a number of local firms to import and distribute its range of bulbs in Kenya.
It is one of the distributors that is being accused of shipping in and dealing in inferior quality products, effectively short-changing customers and putting their lives at risk through use of goods whose safety cannot be guaranteed.
Mr Ongwae said 13 companies imported Philips brand of bulbs in the past one year, having sourced them from different factories around the world.
“We are investigating the country of origin and other details of the consignment for purposes of further action. We are in the process of sampling the affected brand from other distributors to determine compliance,” he said.
Counterfeit products are deliberately and fraudulently mislabelled with respect to their identity or source for purposes of hoodwinking buyers into believing that they are purchasing legitimate goods.
Substandard goods on the other hand do not meet the scientific specifications set at the manufacturing point and as a result could prove ineffective and dangerous to users.
Such goods may be borne of negligence, human error and deployment of insufficient human as well as production resources mostly to cut costs.
Counterfeiting, however, remains the biggest source (about 90 per cent) of substandard goods throughout the world.