National, News

Mary hits at skeptics over NBS’ ability

By William Madouk


Chief executive officer (CEO) of the South Sudan National Bureau of Standards (SSNBS), Mary Gordon, lashed out at the ‘doubting Thomases’ who show reservations over the recent maize test, citing that they cannot fabricate things.

On May 15, South Sudan impounded 62 trucks due to high aflatoxin levels, causing a stir among traders and the Uganda Bureau of Standards.

But after East African Community (EAC) experts in their laboratory retests confirmed the Ugandan maize to be toxic, the Ugandan authorities finally agreed to dump the condemned consignment.

In reaction, the boss of SSNBS appealed to EAC member states to doubtless their results, adding that they are adhering to standard procedures.

“We have a laboratory in South Sudan that can test, we have technicians that can do the work, and we have our neighboring countries to assist us if we need help,” said Mrs. Gordon.

“So, I want our neighboring countries to trust that your member [South Sudan] is coming up and is doing their best to make sure that whatever they’re doing is up to regional standards as well as international standards,” she added.

She said SSNBS became a member of the EAC Bureau of Standards through painstaking work that yielded membership.

Mrs. Gordon added that since SSNBS became a member of the EAC Bureau of Standards, it has been growing, and several memoranda of understanding (MoU) were signed with countries to strengthen capacity and knowledge exchange.

“We cannot be left out. So be assured that South Sudan will not tell you a lie. They will do their best and tell you, this is where we are; this is what we’ve done,” she lamented.

According to her, when SSNBS was clarifying with their counterpart in Uganda, they doubted them because they believe South Sudan doesn’t have the technology, but Mrs. Gordon said SSNBS is on track to be on par with peer nations.

“I was explaining to them that this is what we did—one, two, three, four—and they’re saying, but South Sudan is not equipped with technology,” she explained.

“I said we are. We might not be 100%, but we have probably reached, up to now, about 50%. We are OK; we’re getting there. So they should respect our results.” She continued. “But thank God, God is the one who actually vindicates us in this case.”

What happened

South Sudan impounded 62 trucks with the grains in question on May 15, 2023, after they failed to pass a rapid test against cancer-causing aflatoxin.

However, the importers, traders, and the Uganda Bureau of Standards expressed reservations over the results.

Truckers threatened to stop supplying the country with goods and challenged the exercise of sampling, testing, and dissemination of confirmatory results, adding that none of them had seen the purported results.

But the unfazed SSNBS downplayed the threat of truckers’ protests and said that the final decision for South Sudan’s authority was to destroy toxic maize flour.

After more than a month, NTV Uganda media reported that the trucks were headed to the Elegu border for further verification by representatives of the two countries in the presence of the East African Committee.

EAC standards results

Meanwhile, a fresh laboratory retest carried out by the EAC experts has confirmed the presence of the cancer-causing chemical Aflatoxin in the Ugandan grains expelled by South Sudan authorities.

Preliminary results from 1,700 tons of maize valued at $2 million now indicate failed Aflatoxin-level tests.

“The maize failed to pass the EAC-agreed permissible limit for Aflatoxin B1 in the EAC economic bloc,” Mr. Jacob Kabondo, the coordinator of the Uganda National Millers Association, told the Daily Monitor Newspaper.

The agreed Aflatoxin B1 level in food in EAC is a maximum of five parts per billion (ppb). Elsewhere, the total aflatoxin limit is 10 parts per billion, the experts told the Ugandan Daily Newspaper.

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