Substandard steel products are being sold in major building materials in the country, especially in southeast and southwest areas, raising fears among prospective homebuilders on the spate of building collapse.
The Guardian investigation revealed that distributors have raised the price of their products despite the poor quality products offer. They accused the manufacturers of decreasing the quality and selling at high price. For instance, the 10 mm steel was sold as 12mm rod, while 14mm rod was pass on as 16mm rod.
Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) also confirmed the development during its market monitoring exercise. The Guardian further learnt that concerns are high among members of the Nigerian Institute of building (NIOB) and other professional bodies.
NIOB President, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, told The Guardian that there are several complaints by members on the dangers of the substandard steel reinforcement bars in the market.
“Our concern is so high as the prices keep rising. There has been price instability. Almost every week, price of the bars are increasing, jeopardising the bills of quantities,” he said.
Awobodu said there are also fears of substandard construction that may endanger buildings conditions in the future. The Guardian learnt that SON officials have already shut down 13 steel rods manufacturing companies engaged in producing substandard products. The firms have been opened after complying with necessary procedures for production.
SON said the firms’ non-compliance to standards continued unabated despite regular quality control inspection visits by SON’s state and regional officers with product sampling, testing and feedback.
According to officials, the SON has changed strategy by embarking on monitoring of distributors rather the steel factories. Under the new plan, each producer is expected to issue quality certificate to distributors for products bought from their factories.
MEANWHILE, SON has given manufacturers and importers of steel products three months to evacuate fake and substandard steel products in the country.
Besides, the agency acknowledged the vital importance of producing steel products that meet the requirements of the standards, noting that steel products are key materials used in building bridges, houses and as such, must pass the quality threshold to safeguard lives and property.
SON Director General, Mallam Farouk Salim, at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, stated that Nigeria Industrial Standard (117) for steel products must be adhered to, while sounding a note of warning to steel companies and importers to recall any substandard steel bar they have in the market before the expiration of the ultimatum
“We want to also warn any steel manufacturer caught circumventing quality assurance requirements. Henceforth defaulters will be prosecuted in line with the SON Act 14 of 2015.
“We are giving this warning because the life of every Nigeria is important, any product that will destroy lives and property is not worthy to be in the Nigerian market.
He added that compliance to quality and standards would guarantee local and international patronage of steel products made in Nigeria while also building the confidence of Nigerians in purchasing goods and services in the country.
“I understand that the steel manufacturers undermine one another through the production of substandard steel reinforcement bars under the name and code of rival firms and competitors.
“Such act is not acceptable and it is to the detriment of the unsuspecting end-users who buy and use the products. We also warn you to desist from tampering with any consignment put on hold by officials of the agency for suspected infractions during investigation and quality verifications, such acts by anyone in the steel or other sectors will face the rot of the law,” he warned.
He restated the agency’s commitment to ensure the safety of lives and property of Nigerians, part of which informed its recent nationwide monitoring of steel production.
“We are assuring genuine manufacturers of SON’s resilience and doggedness to protect local production from unfair competition,” the Director General added.
According to the SON boss, steps are underway to harmonise standards for steel production across West Africa, this will avail steel manufacturers the opportunity to produce and export to different countries within the region.
“We urge manufacturers to imbibe the culture of self-regulation and monitoring, it will help to prevent standards infractions,” Salim added.