The Bahamas Bureau of Standards and Quality (BBSQ) recently held a stakeholder engagement meeting to inform residents of Exuma about the organization’s current and future operations on the island and throughout The Bahamas. Leaders of government agencies, heads of various organizations, business owners of several industries and concerned private citizens attended the event. Moderated by Dr Renae Ferguson-Bufford, BBSQ Director, the forum featured remarks by BBSQ personnel and Exuma representatives.
In his welcome and opening remarks, Cadrington Coleby, BBSQ Standards Council Member said that legislation passed by the Bahamas Parliament in 2006 established BBSQ to ensure that all products and services are of the highest standards of quality throughout the islands of The Bahamas in support of quality development nationwide .
Coleby explained: “I’m talking about standards that will be recognized and appreciated worldwide. I’m talking about standards that will cause other people and countries everywhere to want to do business with us in The Bahamas and buy our products. I’m talking about creating and measuring standards for the safety of our own Bahamian people and the wellbeing of the international customers who choose to buy our products and services, those who choose to visit and stay in our hotels, resorts and bed and breakfast establishments.
“We at BBSQ are also engaged in protecting the environment to safeguard it for future generations—Just as you should be. This should ring a bell and become a duty for all Bahamians and especially for you gathered here today and all Exumians.”
BBSQ Standards Officer Tamara Baker explained that the goal of her department is to facilitate the development of national standards and coordinate the activities of various technical committees.
Said Baker of standards development: “A standard, as defined by BBSQ partner, the International Organization for Standardization, is a document, established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.
“In order to produce local standards, we will get individuals from all walks of life in The Bahamas to come together on a committee to lend their expertise. Before we produce any standard, we would ask, ‘does this standard exist internationally or regionally? If so, how can we adapt and adopt it for our country?’ In that way, our local standard would be harmonized regionally and internationally.”
Baker explained that while standards are voluntary, they become mandatory when adopted as a “technical regulation”. For example, in The Bahamas since 2019, all cars imported from Japan must pass certain roadworthiness criteria under the “Pre-Export Verification of Conformity (PVoC)” agreement between the Bahamas Government and EAA Company Ltd of Japan.
Baker noted that standards are essential to support “innovation and speed” and “increase the introduction of new products in the market”. This perspective is also held by Exuma Administrator Christian Palacious. Bringing remarks on behalf of Exuma MP Hon. Chester Cooper, Palacious welcomed the work of BBSQ in ensuring that her island is “ready for economic growth and expansion”.
Palacious added: “Exuma is booming. Every day we can see the evidence of the surge in business, construction, market gain, and most importantly, revenue…We here in the Exumas and indeed The Bahamas at large recognize the importance of having and maintaining high levels of standards in our service, business and development markets. This is crucial. If we are to continue to flourish economically, maintaining quality standards is without question.
“As it relates to our participation in both regional and international trade, it is important that BBSQ exists as a means of ensuring that quality standards are at the forefront in all our productions, manufacturing, services and other such endeavours. Here in Exuma, this will assist us in maintaining and adhering to international accepted guidelines relative to quality and services, while ensuring that safety is highlighted and reinforced as a matter of importance.”
To date, BBSQ has developed thirty-seven (37) local standards with twenty-two (22) others currently in the standards development process.
Nicolette Burrows, BBSQ Metrology Unit Inspector, told attendees that the science of metrology is “vitally important” in the development of national industries and that the “measurement assurance” that metrology promotes equity in trade.
“Though often unseen, meteorology influences, drives and underpins much of what we do and experience in our everyday lives,” said Burrows. “Metrology has proven to be vitally and critically important when it comes to quality assurance in the production of the food that we eat, when we talk about water quality, healthcare, allied health, diagnostics, and when health professionals are writing and dispersing dosages of prescription medication.”
BBSQ employs three branches of metrology—scientific, industrial and legal—to achieve a three-pronged mandate in The Bahamas: to regulate all weighing and measurement activities and instruments, enhance local measurement capacities to be traceable to the International System of Units (SI) system, and build measurement capabilities and calibration services.
Burrows explained: “When we talk about BBSQ regulating all the weighing and measuring instruments, verification is an integral part of that process. This involves an aspect of examination which essentially includes the inspection and testing of instruments to ensure that they are accurate, that they are precise and that they are fit for their intended purpose. For example, the overarching purpose of our fuel dispenser verification is to ensure that the volume of fuel dispensed at places like gas stations is accurate. We aim to verify all the nozzles at the gas stations on a 6-month cycle.”
There are three phases in the verification process. Phase one, visual inspection, is to ensure that the overall integrity of the pump at the gas station is sound. Inspectors will check the hoses for leaks and nozzles for functionality. If unit integrity is found to be compromised, inspectors will either prohibit use of that pump or ask a technician to come and repair it—depending on the severity of the issue. Phase 2 involves the use of specialized metrology apparatus to confirm that the correct volume of gas is being dispersed. Once testing is complete, BBSQ will affix a particular decal to approved pumps. Those pumps that do not pass testing will have a different decal which indicates that the pump has been ‘rejected’ and is not to be used. Persons can contact BBSQ to report gas stations that have rejected pumps in use.
“At the end of the day we are in the business of consumer protection,” Burrows added.
BBSQ conducts similar testing and verification processes wherever commercial scales are being used for trade, ensuring that those instruments provide precise measurement results and fall within metrological controls. This verification process is conducted every twelve (12) months.
BBSQ’s Exuma visit was part of a series of stakeholder engagement meetings that the organization seeks to host in various Family Islands in the coming months.