BCPG expresses concern over quality of reinforcement steel bars

9 February 2016

BUILDING Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG) has expressed worry over the stability of the price of concrete reinforcement steel bars known as iron rods despite the persistent depreciation of the naira, hinting that the development arouses safety concern.

According to the president of the Guild, Kunle Awobodu, a fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB) in a statement, “There are two popular grades of locally manufactured high tensile reinforcement steel bars in the Nigerian building materials’ market. The price of the high grade H.T. steel rebar has remained N140,000 per tonne for the past four years while that of the low grade H.T. steel rebar has been hovering around N100,000 per tonne for the same period. However, exchange rate of Naira to one US Dollar was around N156 in 2012 while it is fluctuating around N300 to one US Dollar today.

He said imported billet or locally recycled scraps are the raw materials being melted to manufacture the reinforcement steel bars used for construction in Nigeria, pointing out that if the cost of production has remained static in the 26 functioning out of the 36 steel rolling mills in Nigeria, there is no cause for alarm. BCPG boss however noted that, but if the cost of production has increased during this period, then it is interpreted that the steel manufacturing companies either have very wide, flexible profit margin or the steel quality has been compromised.

He disclosed that both chemical and mechanical tests would be required to ascertain the quality of the steel rebar. carbon, manganese, sulphur, phosphorus, copper, silicon, aluminum and nitrogen contents at percentages that meet the specifications of the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS) would make the rebar acceptable for construction work.

Construction industry

“However, such steel rebar when subjected to tensile test must meet the specified yield strength and percentage elongation after fracture. Though the essence of establishing a business is to make profit, if the steel manufacturing companies have really sacrificed profit interest in order to maintain standard, they need to be commended for their magnanimous love for the Nigerian construction industry. “While we are not trying to encourage the steel manufacturers to start exploiting clients through price increase, the public should be wary of a situation where quality does not commensurate with price. Succinctly, the ball is in the court of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) to ensure consistent compliance to standards through quality control or monitoring mechanism that should start right from the steel production process rather than relying on random test of steel rebar samples culled from several untested bars in a gambling fashion. Safety of buildings constructed with these steel rebar remains our main concern.

“Once the local rolling mills can discard production of low quality steel bars and focus solely on quality steel bars that would be certified regularly by Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), then there should be no need for imported reinforcement steel bars that sometimes, record non-satisfactory quality. Moreover, Nigeria could become exporters of reinforcement steel bars if the quality meets international standards. This development, of course, will reduce the pressure on the foreign currency to the benefit of the nation’s economy.