The Lack of specifications & standards in Yemen [Archives:2005/879/Opinion]

September 22 2005

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Our country suffers from the lack of any form of specifications and standards. We import from all countries without monitoring for quality of standards. Even those countries or manufacturers that are famous for their high quality products and services tend to downgrade their products when exporting to Yemen; sometimes at the demand of their agents themselves for more profits and competitiveness, knowing that they are not bound to export by any particular criterion and that they wouldn't be liable for any flaws or defects in their products. And this turns our market and country into a haven for all low quality goods and services without the slightest regard whatsoever for health, safety or the environment.

Even some governmental ministries and official departments are not guided by any means of standards on which they can base their functions, duties or procurements. One day they would purchase in accordance with this standard, the next to another standard.

I was amazed recently to see some right-steered cars running on the streets of the capital city Sana'a with legal number plates on them. One wonders!? How could these cars enter the country? And how could they be given those number plates!?

A friend of mine traveled from Sana'a to Taiz and all the way back to Sana'a. During his journey in his car he encountered many traffic signs reading “45M”. He couldn't understand what they meant. When he asked me about them, I laughed at him and replied simply that they should be meaning: “speed shouldn't exceed 45 miles an hour.” Only to be reminded that we are supposed to follow one metric system; either the kilometer or the mile system, but never together; otherwise the traffic office has to distribute calculators to every car traveling between Sana'a and Taiz so that drivers can convert from the system specified to the one that came in their cars. I wish those traffic signs “45M” have any meaning other than 45 miles and that my friend and I could be enlightened about it.

Such lack of well-studied unified standards is really depressing. But there seems to be a glimpse of hope coming on the way. Over the past few days we have all noticed in the official newspapers the campaign being launched by the Yemeni Authority for Standards, Measurements, and Quality Control releasing numbers of newly approved and renewed standards and calling on all businesses to comply or else face prosecution. We hope that this campaign is serious this time and enough efforts and resources will be dedicated to this task to free our markets from the rubbish they are filled with and to protect consumers and our economy from being exploited by local and foreign gangs. Amen.