The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has issued an alert on the rising imports of harmful cosmetic and substandard construction products into the country.
The standards watchdog said some of the makeups it has banned including bleaching products have found their way back into the market, despite containing harmful components that endanger users’ skin.
Mr. Bernard Njiraini, Kebs managing director, said most of the harmful makeups being sold are coming from neighboring countries while observing that they remain popular in the market their harmful effects notwithstanding. “We have seen products that we have banned are also quite preferred by the people, they prefer the bleaching (products) that contain mercury, hydroquinone, and such. Some of them are not coming into the country through the normal border entry points, they come through porous borders carried by people who travel to neighboring countries,” he said.
Usage of makeup in Kenya has grown rapidly over the past few years, surpassing many other commodities to rank top among those brought in. Imports of the products last year rose past the Sh20 billion mark.
Mr Njiraini said the agency has lately been heavy on surveillance of construction equipment being imported, noting that some of them do not meet set standards.
He listed roofing sheets, steel bars and cement among some of the key cargo the agency is keenly monitoring within the sector.
“We are also paying keen attention to some hardware items including construction materials such as reinforcing bars because of the critical role they play in ensuring buildings stand strong. We have seen a number of products in this (construction) area, which since they come as pre-painted, the zinc coating thickness sometimes does not meet the required standards,” said Mr Njiraini.
Kebs also said it continues to keep constant surveillance on compliance of maize flour with set aflatoxin standards and other quality measures, to ensure millers don’t supply substandard product to consumers.
He spoke during the commemoration of World Standards day, where Kebs unveiled newly approved 474 standards for different products in the country.
The agency said it is adopting a strategy to support informal businesses in the Jua Kali sector develop products meeting standards, as its way to support them compete in the regional market, as the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) market starts operating.