x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Retailers ordered to supply three-pin adaptors by March

Government takes steps to phase out unsafe two-pin plugs.

DUBAI // Retailers must provide a special three-pin plug adaptor on all goods from the beginning of March ahead of a ban on appliances with two pins, according to impending guidelines.

The move is part of a phased ban on the import and sale of two-pin plugs and will mean only the British standard three-pin versions will be allowed in the UAE from January 1 next year.

Last October, the Emirates Authority for Standardisation and Metrology (Esma), told traders it wanted to implement the shift away from two-pin plugs because they were a potential fire risk, with safety inspectors removing two-prong toasters and appliances from shop shelves.

"It's not safe to force these two-pin plugs into the standard three-pin sockets we have in this country," said Mohammed Saleh Badri, the acting director general of Esma. "After we made the announcement last year we held numerous talks with traders, and one of the things that came out was that they wanted a grace period to give them enough time to meet the requirements."

To make the move easier, from March, shops that do not already stock the new standard equipment must provide a special adaptor that is connected to the two-pin plug and converts it to three.

"It will be an Esma-approved fixed adaptor, which will be attached to the plug and be removable only by trained technicians, not by consumers," said Mr Badri.

Traders and manufacturers will be sent a letter by Esma confirming the details of the changes at the beginning of February.

"The three-pin standard is not a radical shift because it is commonly used in other countries.

"Most manufacturers should not have a problem with this because they already make these plugs for the British market," said Mr Badri.

Esma is working with authorities in each of the emirates and regular inspections will be carried out by Dubai Municipality and the newly established Quality and Conformity Council in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Ministry of Economy.

Nadeem Khanzadah, the chief executive officer of Jumbo electronics, backed the new guidelines and was confident his company would meet the deadline.

"We haven't received any official deadline but, from our point of view, it is a case of informing the manufacturers this rule is coming into force and so we need the three-pin plugs.

"We won't have any problem meeting the deadline.

He said the retailer would inform manufacturers and vendors about the new changes once it receives official confirmation, adding it is "the right step for the UAE to move three-pin plus".

Sheriff Rizwan, the chief executive of the online electronics store ALshop.com, said it already had procedures in place to respond to the demand for adaptors.

"A lot of iPhones are imported from the US and they have two-pin plugs as standard," he said. "But if a customer asks for a three-pin adaptor we send it to them free of charge."

From 2013, all plugs for electrical appliances below 13 amps will be the standard three-pin models. Manufacturers and traders must adopt the UAE/BS 1363-5 standard for all home and office appliances. The system features shutters on the live and neutral socket holes and a fuse in the plug. The shuttering system in sockets means that nothing can be inserted into the neutral and live terminals until the ground pin has been inserted. It was first used in the UK in 1947 and has been adopted in a number of other countries including Bahrain, Iraq, Oman and Jordan.

nhanif@thenational.ae