Minister of Industry, Trade and Tourism Henry Mussa has warned Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) against compromising standards following a fire accident that burnt a laboratory at MBS in Blantyre last week.
The minister said this on Friday when he toured MBS premises to assess the extent of the damage.
The fire destroyed all laboratory equipment valued at K167 million, according to MBS director general Davlin Chokazinga.
All the samples that were being worked on were also burnt to ashes.
A visibly shaken Mussa said MBS is a critical institution not only for certifying standards of local products, but also for exports and imports.
“Much as we understand that the laboratory that was being used to certify the quality of products has been damaged, we cannot accept MBS to lower their standards.
“For example, MBS is the institution that approves the standards of foodstuffs whose quality should be ascertained before consumption,” he said.
Mussa urged MBS to continue with its operations to check on the standards of products coming into the country.
“All goods coming in must comply to standards as you know the qualification of all the products ought to meet the regional, continental and international standards,” he said.
Chokazinga assured companies and individuals that send products for certification not to worry because MBS will rent temporary premises where operations will continue.
“Although we have lost all lab equipment and samples, we will continue our operations at another place. On the other hand, the good thing is that we have back-up data stored in computers,” he said.
Chokazinga estimated that operations in the lab would resume within 30 days.
Apart from lab equipment and samples, other things that have been affected by the fire are furniture, electrical appliances and some offices such as that of director general.
MBS plans to move to its new complex behind Chichiri Trade Fair Grounds by December this year where there is modern equipment.
Currently, MBS has invited Electricity Supply Corporation of Malawi (Escom) and insurers to assess the cause the fire and extent of damage. MBS said it will also engage experts to quantify the cost of the building.