On 20th May every year, Uganda through the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) joins the rest of the World to commemorate the World Metrology Day. The celebrations this year were run under the theme, Measurements for global trade.
The celebrations come at a time when the world is battling the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, the role of metrology (a science of measurement) in facilitating essential workers that are at the forefront of fighting the COVID-19 pandemic cannot be overlooked.
During this period of the COVID-19 pandemic, many measurements are done, if these are wrong we may allow a person infected into our community because the results are negative, quarantine, or deny access to a healthy person because the results are falsely positive. Well-set and accurate oxygen pressure and flow rates of ventilators during patient treatment are a critical factor.
Accurate measurement results in timely and correct treatment and therefore has direct and beneficial effect on the safety and care of patients who are treated in hospitals. Through the National Metrology Laboratories, UNBS calibrated over 520 medical laboratory equipment like pipettes, freezer, incubator, thermometers, timers, humidity meters, height measures, etc. This demonstrated the relevance of metrology in ensuring that we have accurate measurements and thus the need to build capacity to address the testing and calibration of the entire scope of medical equipment.
The quality of products on the market ultimately depend on how accurately the production process conditions like temperature, pressure, pH, etc, have been measured and controlled. Accurate measurements are therefore central to the manufacture, supply and consumption of goods and services as it ensures product quality, interoperability, eliminates waste, raises productivity, and facilitates trade based on agreed quality through measurements and tests. Over 6200 equipment was calibrated by the UNBS in various industries across the country to support efficient process control in manufacturing between July 2018 and March 2020.
In Uganda, quantities of relief items like food, sanitizers, face masks; whether donated or bought by Government, are determined by weighing and measuring equipment verified and stamped by the UNBS.
UNBS also undertakes legal metrology activities regulated under the Weights and Measures Act, Cap 103 with a mandate to ensure fair trade practices and oversee accuracy of equipment used in enforcement for safety, environment and medical fields.
Because of metrology activities in place, no complaint of under delivery of goods has been received during COVID-19, which could imply that the existence of accurate measurement systems enforced by the UNBS has among other things posed these benefits;
Government budgets during planning for food supplies to the venerable poor in the COVID-19 fight has had an aspect of weights and measurements. Because of the UNBS Interventions however, there has been little or no complaint of deficits arising from inaccurate measurements. The weighing equipment (Minzani) include table tops, pedestals, counter machines, spring balances, platform scales and weigh bridges. These instruments are periodically verified to ensure accuracy and therefore fit for use for trade, hence promoting fairness in trade. A total of 269,630 Weighing Instruments and 1,185,953 Duka Weights across the country have between 1st July 2018 and 31st March 2020 been verified.
With continued and increased consumption of electricity in homes and local industries dealing in essential goods during the COVID-19 lockdown, the need for accurate electricity energy measurement is critical. The UNBS energy meter section has been engaged in the verification of energy meters, which covers those in-service and new connections. A total of 452,865 Electricity Meters have between 1st July 2018 and 31st March 2020 been verified.
UNBS intervention in the packaging and manufacturing industry has played a big role in curbing fraudulent, deceptive or misleading packaging before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Proper labelling procedures have been adhered to and as a result, price hikes of goods as a result defective or misleading practices has not been reported. A total of 10,707 Samples for consumer goods arising from country wide verification visits have between 1st July 2018 and 31st March 2020 been analysed.
Fuel Supply Chain/ sector
During custody transfer and sale of fuel, different players including government and traders employ measuring instruments for taxation and supply of the right quantities of fuel. It is still the role of the UNBS to ensure that these instruments are accurate. Under the fuel supply chain, the following intervention are in place:
- Verification of fuel dispensers at retail outlets: The demand for fuel has remained significant and critical to operations of the COVID-19 task force and essential workers. UNBS verifies and seals fuel dispensers at the filling stations to protect motorists from short measure purchases. A total of 28,362 and 965 Pressure Gauges fuel dispensers at different fuel outlets across the country have between 1st July 2018 and 31st March 2020 been verified.
- Verification of Depot Meters: During sale or distribution of fuel from depots within the country to filling stations, flow meters quantify fuel for loading on internal distribution trucks. UNBS Inspectors verify and seal these instruments to safeguard against short measures. A total of 486 Bulk meters at different fuel deports across the country have between 1st July 2018 and 31st March 2020 been verified.
- Verification of road tankers and Validation of Calibration charts at One Stop Border Posts: UNBS continues to verify Road tankers that carry fuel across the border. These verified measures help to check tax evasions. In their absence, operators may declare wrong quantities born on the trucks. The country can then lose revenue on untaxed fuel. Besides, UNBS validate certified charts for the fuel marking process by Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to ensure that fake documentation does not form basis for clearing road tankers. A total of 3,657 road fuel tankers and 1,569 static tanks have between 1st July 2018 and 31st March 2020 been verified.
Protection on Road Infrastructure:
The country spends funds for the construction and maintenance of roads. Therefore, all efforts should be made to minimise damage to our roads by controlling overloading of the roads. UNBS therefore, periodically verify all Weigh Bridges used for this purpose to ensure fit for purpose.
The benefits of metrology touch us all irrespective of wherever we live and whatever we do. The adventure of metrology is an enterprise which has been propelling the evolution of the modern world and which continues to excite the imagination and to assist society. With this in mind, it is therefore imperative that the government continues to invest in national metrology infrastructure to keep abreast with technological changes.
At UNBS, we reaffirm our commitment to offering quality services with a view of protecting the society and country at large against consequences of faulty measurements.