Since the National Standards Laboratory (NSL) was launched and opened in September 2011, the sector seems acutely underfunded as transition to standards in Liberia requires urgency. Making comments recently about the sector’s present functions, challenges and prospects, the Technical Manager, Metrology Department at the National Standards Laboratory (NSL), Nicolas Williams disclosed that the (NSL) is a testing and calibration facility. He said that there is a regulatory body responsible to regulate the quality of products coming into the country while the (NSL) is responsible to provide technical support by testing and calibration of these products.
The (NSL) waits to be engaged for food testing; water, iodine salt, frozen food, alcoholic beverages among others while the calibration of measuring equipment such as thermometers, scales, fuel dispensers among others .
Though a proactive laboratory system could be linked as a result of an equipped facility, William acknowledged, “We have limited budgetary support from the government; it is very minimum to an extent that it doesn’t cope with the day to day offers of the laboratory as the lab seeks accreditation in ISO 17025.”
There are so many standards; the International Organization for Standards (ISO) 01725 is a standard for Laboratory accreditation specifically for testing and calibration facilities.
He highlighted other challenges following the numeration of staffers while they lose these individuals to the private sector for higher wages.
Williams linked prospects to an aspect of the West African Quality System Program (WAQSP). He asserted, “If we have a quality infrastructure, it’s going to be independent and will be backed by law and will enhance standardization in our country, and will regulate the import of substandard goods into the country, and enable Liberian produce to be exported.”
It can be recalled that in August 2015, following a meeting, a draft was presented, to stakeholders about the establishment of a National Quality Infrastructure in Liberia Training Coordinator from Ghana, John Oppong-Otoo, disclosed that the quality program started in 2001 through 2005, when the implementers decided to include other West African countries during the second phase in 2007-2013, gave birth to phase three, which is the (WAQSP).
Urging hopes from stakeholders, Oppong acknowledged that “Liberia has a system in place and needs to support it, so it can be able to provide the necessary quality activities which will help ensure that the consumer is protected.”
According to official reports the National Standards Laboratory (NSL) of Liberia operates as a calibration and testing laboratory which is linked to the economic pillar of Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS) II Economic Transformation and Liberia’s Drive to meeting World Trade Organization WTO regulation especially aimed to improve the Sanitary Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) meeting food quality and control and facilitate trade.
The (NSL) of Liberia is a project being implemented through (UNIDO) and works as a branch under the Ministry of Commerce.