Thievery and Murder by Fake Products in Salone

21 November 2006 at 21:01 | 772 views

"A month or so go, I spoke with an authority in the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone. He told me that an estimated 50% of the drugs in the Salone market are fakes!! Wow!! Why not raise the alarm!!? Well, I was told, such information would cause pandemonium in our society!!. I could not see the logic."

By Oswald Hanciles, Freetown.

There is nothing like experience. I use the title above because of an experience I had a month ago. Apparently, I bought a fake "HONDA" generator for Le1,350,000 from a shop called KINGS ELECTRICALS on 51 Siaka Stevens Street (next door to the popular LION PHOTO STUDIO). But I was lucky. My hapless compatriots in Sierra Leone would have died as apparently legitimate business people peddle fake products to them. Especially fake drugs.

Read this scary information from an authority on the subject: "..In another recent survey, 38% of tablets sold in five countries in mainland South East Asia as the new antimalarial Artesunate were fake...Artesunate.... attractive to counterfeiters, who have gone to great lengths to deceive patients, using small amounts of ineffectual bitter chloroquine, copying the blister pack design, and even providing fake holograms on the package. Some counterfeit drugs contain actively harmful ingredients"..They import some of them here.

You buy the relatively expensive Artesunate malarial drug, and your malarial condition worsens. You go for tests afterwards, and it is stated you have high levels of malarial parasites still in your blood. In rural areas where there are no labs, people simply die.In Freetown today, I dare to buy prescription drugs only from IMRES Pharmacy on Wilberforce Street, BODICARE Pharmacy on Bathurst Street, and SAMJANA Pharmacy on Percival Street. I have been bitten by a lot of the other pharmacies which I will not mention here. Silent murder is being committed daily by too many of our local drug marketers.

A month or so go, I spoke with an authority in the Pharmacy Board of Sierra Leone. He told me that an estimated 50% of the drugs in the Salone market are fakes!! Wow!! Why not raise the alarm!!? Well, I was told, such information would cause pandemonium in our society!!. I could not see the logic. So, it is better for the governmental body responsible to prevent fake drugs coming into the market to belie the problem, and to allow a form of Murder Inc. to prosper.!? World Health Organization (WHO) document states: "Much of the counterfeit drug trade is probably linked to organised crime, corruption, the narcotics trade, unregulated pharmaceutical companies, and the business interests of unscrupulous politicians..". According to the World Health Organization (WHO), between six and 10 percent of all medicine on the world market is reported to be counterfeit ...worth $US35 billion a year. Some of these drugs are landing in Sierra Leone. So, you see why I started by saying my own problem with the probable fake marketer of HONDA generator was a mild one.

Unfortunately for the apparent owner of KINGS ELECTRICAL who could have sold me the fake HONDA portable generator, I know how to do research on the internet. I did my home work on the "HONDA" brand of generators. The first Honda portable generator, the E300, was built in 1965..... A testament to the quality of the Honda E300 portable generator is that many of these first models are still in use today". Forty years after....HONDA Quality!!

HONDA takes pride in producing electric generators that are easy to start. That was the exact reverse of the generator I bought from KINGS ELECTRICALS in Freetown - it was almost impossible to start. Bought brand new, it gave me continual problems for two weeks. I got the ’generator man’- called "Joko" - from KINGS ElECTRICALS to come to my residence to look at the machine. He did. Twice. Still the same problem.

When I approached the Indian-looking man who’d sold the machine to me to change the generator - or give me back my money - he said that I have had the machine for one month, and he would not change it. One month!! No warranty. "Warranty"?: That appeared an alien word to the Indian shopkeeper.

And look at what is the case in the ’civilized world’: "Honda (United Kingdom) today (2 October 2006) announced it is extending its warranty on all new Honda generators from two to five years - an industry-first that reflects the company’s belief in continuing to provide ’best in class’ products and customer support. ...Following recent attempts by other manufacturers to sell illegal imitations of Honda generators.....Iain Radcliffe, Marketing and Communications Manager, Honda (UK) Power Equipment, comments: ’... Honda generators (are) unbeaten in the market. .... The extension of the warranty on all Honda generators to five years reflects our belief in the quality of our product, whilst creating another reason for the customer to continue choosing Honda generators above all other manufacturers.". But, apparently, the Indian shopkeeper’s words and actions was that that was for the ’civilized whites’ in the U.K, we in Africa, in Salone, are ’uncivilized blacks’.

So, when I pleaded with the Indian shopkeeper that I desperately need the generator to work (in the presence of a generator expert I had taken to the shop with me, one Michael Gbenga), showing him my published articles in local SALONE TIMES, CONCORD TIMES, and online newspapers based in the U.S. (including Patriotic Vanguard), he said I was trying to put fear into him. And, he ’knack chest’ that he was not afraid of anyone. To press home his point, he took out his mobile phone, and showed us three names of SENIOR POLICE OFFICERS. As angry as I was, I burst out in laughter; convulsing with hilarity for five minutes. My mirth was to rein my anger.
I have been affronted by the entire episode!!. In my own country, I am denied regular electricity by my government. By Sierra Leone standards, I spend good money to buy myself an electrical generator - to work. I am a workaholic. My Indian merchant could have sold me a fake HONDA!! portable generator - and I must bear the loss (?).

All the HONDA generators I saw on the many internet websites - from Australia to U.S. to U.K. - were coloured RED. The one sold to me was coloured BLUE. My generator expert told me that the generator sold to me has a "fan belt" - which is almost impossible to repair, and spare parts were not available locally. The Indian shop keeper told me nothing about spare parts. He didn’t give me any booklet to guide me. His instructions were verbal. The shopkeeper brags that ’he is ready to fight’. As far as he was concerned, while in the U.K., warranty for HONDA generators is FIVE YEARS - his own warranty was FIVE DAYS!.. Okay, compatriots, you who have been victims of these apparent criminal shopkeepers, hawkers of fake products, I plead you join me in..This fight!! This is the first shot.By the way, Mr KING ELECTRICALS, I am sending this article around the world. The real HONDA portable generators will get to you....Lawyers!!?

Photo: President Kabbah of Sierra Leone.