[PHOTOS]: Counterfeit products worth Rwf33 million seized in operation
Counterfeit, substandard and illicit products worth over Rwf33 million have been seized from the market in a joint operation conducted last week.
The results of the operation were made public, yesterday, at the Rwanda National Police (RNP) General Headquarters in Kacyiru.
The two-day operation codenamed ‘Fagia OPSON III’ was conducted between December 20th and 21st, by RNP and other entities including ministries of Trade and Commerce, Health and Agriculture.
Others include Rwanda Standards Board (RBS), Rwanda Revenue Authority (RRA), Rwanda Development Board (RDB), and Private Sector Federation (PSF) as well as brand owners.
The regional operation under the auspice of the international police – Interpol – was conducted and results publicized concurrently in all the thirteen Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (EAPCCO) member countries.
The assorted substandard, counterfeit and illicit goods seized in the countrywide operation, include foodstuffs, medical drugs, lotions, perfumes and powdered milk.
Others include veterinary drugs, fertilizers and animal feed, alcoholic drinks including wines and spirits as well as locally made alcoholic beverages; either illicit, parked contrary to standards or plagiarized.
Commissioner of Police (CP) Emmanuel Butera, the commissioner for Operation and Public Order in RNP, while releasing the outcome of the operation, warned the business community against “selling and making unauthorized products.”
“This is like poisoning Rwandans, which can’t be allowed; that’s why different institutions and brand owners come together to put ideas and skills together to detect these dangerous products to protect consumers from harm,” CP Butera said.
“Dealing in substandard, fake or illicit products is criminal, a security concern due to health implications such brings along, affects development and cause losses to legal companies whose products have been counterfeited or plagiarized, but also a loss to dealers whose products are seized and destroyed,” he added.
He said that the operations will continue and called upon the general public and the business community in particular to protect their businesses by reporting people selling unauthorized goods.
Fredric Muhoza from the pharmaceutical section in the Ministry of Health, said all lotions with hydroquinone content were banned in Rwanda, on health grounds.
Hydroquinone is a bleaching agent that lightens the skin, and Muhoza said that it has been scientifically proven that it causes skin diseases like skin cancer.
Fagia OPSON III follows two other similar operations conducted in 2015 and 2016, which also seized products worth Rwf14 million and Rwf140 million, respectively.
Desire Musangwa, the head of Industry Inspection in RSB, said that only distilleries and firms dealing in milk products with the S Mark are required to operate.
“Since October, we suspended all distilleries without the S-Mark – Standard Mark – and there are only 12 licensed distilleries; all others were suspended due to standards, which have to be met first,” Musangwa said.
As of end of November, at least close to 80 distilleries that were either operating illegally or centrally to the standards.