Standards Bureau Developed Over 300 Standards- Executive Director Secka

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By: Kebba AF Touray

Mr Papa Secka, the Executive Director of The Gambia Standards Bureau (TGSB), has disclosed that the Bureau has developed over three hundred standards.

DG Secka unveiled this on Friday 18th August 2023, while delivering a welcoming statement at a stakeholder engagement on the standards for electrical cables.

The Bureau held the engagement in line with its strive to facilitate its work on standardization, as it is a member of both the International Organization for Standardization (IOS) and the International Electro-technical Committee (IEC).

By virtue of this membership (IEC), the Bureau established the National Electro-technical Committee, with the role of development and promotion of standards in the said IEC sector.

“To date, the Bureau has developed more than three hundred standards. Thirty-three out of which are on electrical and allied products which are collectively classified as electro-technical products,” he said.

He said that whereas their flagship standard in this domain remains the National Electrical Wiring Standard which has been developed taking into account the principles and norms as established internationally, currently prevailing conditions and practices both local and international, all the other remaining standards, including cables, are direct adoptions of IEC Standards.

He said that this is because IEC standards are an internationally accepted reference for electro technical products, which is in accordance with ISO/IEC Guide on Standards development that National Standard Bodies all over the world follow.

He added that many manufacturers around the world would rather cut corners for reasons such as taking advantage of the weak regulatory framework of many importing countries, saying “This practice has resulted in a number of bad quality cables collectively referred to as substandard products.”

A substandard cable, he said, is an electrical cable that is not designed, constructed, test approved, installed, or used in accordance with their prescribed standards and or specifications.

He quantified that the dangers of substandard cables include but are not limited to the breakdown of cable insulation, joints, or connectors at installed positions or distribution boards.

Excessive overheating, he said, may result in short circuit conditions leading to an electrical fire, and that similar impact can be highlighted for non-compliance on insulation and protective layer of cables.

“We are witness to the numerous fire incidents in our homes, industrial facilities, public structures such as markets, schools, resulting in significant economic losses and even facilities. We as a Bureau have responded since many years back with the rolling out of relevant standards and their promotion and related capacity building targeting all stakeholders,” he said.

He further stated that it seems the regulation and enforcement of applicable standards in this respect is disjointed, uncoordinated and therefore ineffective.

DG Secka, however, decried that due to limited resources, the bureau has to prioritize on a number of criteria such as Development Plans and Priorities of Government, Import and Export Statistics of Goods, health and safety consideration among others.

“The result of this exercise culminated in the development of our National Standardization Strategy,” he reported.

Permanent Secretary Ministry of Works, Louis Moses Mendy, said that as a government, they are cognizant of the crucial role of the private sector in the overall development of the country, stressing that they are also the biggest customer of businesses.

“For this reason,  in procuring goods and services, we do not only ensure that there is value for money, but also quality assurance as it is critical in protecting the safety and health of citizens, as well as safeguarding the integrity of infrastructure,” he said.

He added that the only way they do this, is the application of relevant standards across the whole value chain of any works or service delivery, connoting that standards serve as the overriding tools that form the foundation of these.

While dilating on the significance of the electrical and allied products, he highlighted the diversity of electro technical products, which include the electrical cables, which he said are the backbone of anything and anywhere electricity is needed.

He said “It is therefore because of this very crucial role that cables play in electrical installations, that their quality must never be compromised. Unfortunately, we as a country have had our fair share of the negative impact of substandard cables.”

He said that even though it may be argued that some of the devastating fires the country has witnessed in the communities may not be entirely due to substandard cables, it goes without saying that they constitute a major fire hazard.

“Hence, there is the need for effective regulation in order to safeguard the integrity and safety of our installations, dwellings and similar structures. In order to achieve this objective, there is the need for collaboration with the participation of all stakeholders and coordination of the roles of different government institutions,” said PS Mendy.

He assured the convergence of the Ministry’s keen stance in looking forward to the resolutions and recommendations of the meeting for its consideration for implementation as per their mandate.