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BREAKING NEWS ! ACCRA, GHANA

“Ghana adopted the metric system this week after more than a century of using the imperial system of weights and measures”.

Indeed great headline but “old” news from September 1975. Or is that a contradiction by itself?

One of the major policies for which the late General Acheampong will forever be remembered is the change of our system of measurements from imperial to metric.

September 1975 was the official end of pounds, shillings, pence, miles, furlongs, yards, feet and inches; stones, and ounces etc.

But did we really change? We are all supposed to study in school and use the metric system in our daily lives, but do we?

I have worked in the construction industry where hardly anybody knows what a meter, centimeter and millimeter is.

Because of that, I taught myself quickly how to convert inches, foot and yards into metric.

Funny but strange enough, most of our architects are working with a computer program to design buildings and draw building maps in the “Autocad” system in metric measurements.

How do they expect low educated carpenters, masons, plumbers and electricians to convert that on the construction site?

How can we expect good construction practices when cement is sold in sacks of 50 kg, sand and stones are “measured” in Kia or tipper sizes, nails are measured in pounds, wood in feet and water still in gallons?

A good measurement of concrete is 1:2:3 meaning 1 kg cement, 2 kg sand and 3 kg stones. I trained my workers to fill a wheelbarrow with cement and add 2 wheelbarrows sand and 3 wheelbarrows stones, but how many people know that?

All our ladies buy cloth for their sleets in yards, have you ever seen meter prices advertised on cloth and other materials.

All our schools are teaching our students in the metric system. But will you believe if I try to explain how simple metric is compared to imperial with a few simple questions like: “how many inches are in a foot?”, “how many feet are in a yard?” they hardly understand. I don’t even try how many yards in a mile, but show them 1 millimeter to 1 decimeter to 1 meter buy simply adding a zero. Unfortunately most of them are not even interested.

Although we hardly import directly from the United Kingdom and our duties at ports are always measured in $ US, until some years ago we regularly saw prices in Pounds.

To make things more complicated, even between USA and UK pounds, tons etc there are differences.

Petrol price changes are still given in Cedi per liter, like at 99% at our petrol stations, but we still continue giving Gallon prices as well.

We massively import vehicles from the USA but hardly anybody knows how to convert the American Miles a car has been used to our official kilometers.

My wife and I love going to the Tema fishing harbor and the (so called) European fish Market. Fish mongers are using scales measuring in pounds and they tell us that 2 pounds is 1 kg.

However 1 kg is 1,000 gram, and 1 pound is 0.4536. So 2 pounds are 907 gram instead of 1,000 gram. Which means that on top of the already tempered scales these “ladies” are using we are supposed to loose almost another 10%.

Our local butcher, Ali is using the same scale with pounds instead of kilos (kgs) just like many others.

Did you know we import goods from EU and other countries produced for metric that we need to connect with imperial size products?

Did you know that mechanics and engineers are struggling with tools because some are produced in metric and others in imperial sizes?

Did you know that the use of “margarine”, Alonka, gallon and other daily used measurements are actually illegal in Ghana according to the:

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES ACT, 1975

See several articles of that act hereunder;

The units of measurements to be used throughout Ghana shall be the units known as the International System of Units.

The metre, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela.

(I didn’t see any margarine, gallon, headpan or Kia etc)

Any other units of measurement or their multiples or sub-multiples shall not be used.

Weights and measures for use in trade and industry

A person shall not use a unit of measurement for trade or industry of length, area, volume, or mass or weight.

A person commits fraud in the use of trade or industry of any weight, measure or instrument for weighing or measuring, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine.

I am sure lawyers will contradict the fact that the act of not using the imperial system correctly is not fraud, but I will say; “read well: The units of measurements to be used throughout Ghana shall be the units known as the International System of Units. I didn’t see pounds, yards etc in that.

I don’t think that in our country, where children born after the introduction of our Ghana Cedi July 2007 are still talking about millions, metric will become commonly used in trade in shops and kiosks but we need to keep on pushing our official metric system. It’s not only in the interest of our children but of every Ghanaian.

We can make it easy by starting on all imported goods, followed by our industry and re-rolling it out to our streets, shops, kiosk vendors etc. Not just because it’s (actually) the law but mostly because it’s much easier for all of us.

Nico van Staalduinen

Just a concerned Ghanaian

[8/16, 12:17 PM] www.africanentertainment.com: BREAKING NEWS ! ACCRA, GHANA

“Ghana adopted the metric system this week after more than a century of using the imperial system of weights and measures”.

Indeed great headline but “old” news from September 1975. Or is that a contradiction by itself?

One of the major policies for which the late General Acheampong will forever be remembered is the change of our system of measurements from imperial to metric.

September 1975 was the official end of pounds, shillings, pence, miles, furlongs, yards, feet and inches; stones, and ounces etc.

But did we really change? We are all supposed to study in school and use the metric system in our daily lives, but do we?

I have worked in the construction industry where hardly anybody knows what a meter, centimeter and millimeter is.

Because of that, I taught myself quickly how to convert inches, foot and yards into metric.

Funny but strange enough, most of our architects are working with a computer program to design buildings and draw building maps in the “Autocad” system in metric measurements.

How do they expect low educated carpenters, masons, plumbers and electricians to convert that on the construction site?

How can we expect good construction practices when cement is sold in sacks of 50 kg, sand and stones are “measured” in Kia or tipper sizes, nails are measured in pounds, wood in feet and water still in gallons?

A good measurement of concrete is 1:2:3 meaning 1 kg cement, 2 kg sand and 3 kg stones. I trained my workers to fill a wheelbarrow with cement and add 2 wheelbarrows sand and 3 wheelbarrows stones, but how many people know that?

All our ladies buy cloth for their sleets in yards, have you ever seen meter prices advertised on cloth and other materials.

All our schools are teaching our students in the metric system. But will you believe if I try to explain how simple metric is compared to imperial with a few simple questions like: “how many inches are in a foot?”, “how many feet are in a yard?” they hardly understand. I don’t even try how many yards in a mile, but show them 1 millimeter to 1 decimeter to 1 meter buy simply adding a zero. Unfortunately most of them are not even interested.

Although we hardly import directly from the United Kingdom and our duties at ports are always measured in $ US, until some years ago we regularly saw prices in Pounds.

To make things more complicated, even between USA and UK pounds, tons etc there are differences.

Petrol price changes are still given in Cedi per liter, like at 99% at our petrol stations, but we still continue giving Gallon prices as well.

We massively import vehicles from the USA but hardly anybody knows how to convert the American Miles a car has been used to our official kilometers.

My wife and I love going to the Tema fishing harbor and the (so called) European fish Market. Fish mongers are using scales measuring in pounds and they tell us that 2 pounds is 1 kg.

However 1 kg is 1,000 gram, and 1 pound is 0.4536. So 2 pounds are 907 gram instead of 1,000 gram. Which means that on top of the already tempered scales these “ladies” are using we are supposed to loose almost another 10%.

Our local butcher, Ali is using the same scale with pounds instead of kilos (kgs) just like many others.

Did you know we import goods from EU and other countries produced for metric that we need to connect with imperial size products?

Did you know that mechanics and engineers are struggling with tools because some are produced in metric and others in imperial sizes?

Did you know that the use of “margarine”, Alonka, gallon and other daily used measurements are actually illegal in Ghana according to the:

WEIGHTS AND MEASURES ACT, 1975

See several articles of that act hereunder;

The units of measurements to be used throughout Ghana shall be the units known as the International System of Units.

The metre, kilogram, second, ampere, kelvin, mole and candela.

(I didn’t see any margarine, gallon, headpan or Kia etc)

Any other units of measurement or their multiples or sub-multiples shall not be used.

Weights and measures for use in trade and industry

A person shall not use a unit of measurement for trade or industry of length, area, volume, or mass or weight.

A person commits fraud in the use of trade or industry of any weight, measure or instrument for weighing or measuring, commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to imprisonment not exceeding two years or to a fine.

I am sure lawyers will contradict the fact that the act of not using the imperial system correctly is not fraud, but I will say; “read well: The units of measurements to be used throughout Ghana shall be the units known as the International System of Units. I didn’t see pounds, yards etc in that.

I don’t think that in our country, where children born after the introduction of our Ghana Cedi July 2007 are still talking about millions, metric will become commonly used in trade in shops and kiosks but we need to keep on pushing our official metric system. It’s not only in the interest of our children but of every Ghanaian.

We can make it easy by starting on all imported goods, followed by our industry and re-rolling it out to our streets, shops, kiosk vendors etc. Not just because it’s (actually) the law but mostly because it’s much easier for all of us.

About the author: Nico van Staalduinen is a Ghanaian-Dutch businessman and columnist at www.africanentertainment.com

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