NIGERIA – The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Tuesday raised the alarm over an acute upsurge of the volume of defective iron and steel products in the market.
The Director General (SON), Dr. Joseph Odumodu, made this known in an emergency meeting summoned by the agency towards quickly tackling the malaise before it escalates and leads to an unfortunate incident.
He explained that after carrying out an enforcement exercise recently, during SON’s periodic review of product quality in the market, the agency found that most manufacturers in the country had begun to cut corners on the required standards for iron and steel in terms of physical and chemical properties.
The SON boss however noted that the agency had rolled out severe measures to intervene, stop the trend and prevent the occurrence of accidents on account of the violation.
Highlighting the various areas where local steel manufacturers had compromised standards, Odumodu noted that the steel products that were supposed to measure 16 millimeters (mm) in diameter were discovered to measure only 14mm, thereby falling short of acceptable standards by 2mm with significant impact on the overall strength.
He also stated that the iron and steel products that were supposed to measure 12mm measured only 10mm in diameter, while those which were supposed to be 10mm diameter were made to measure only 8mm.
The SON chief executive stated further that from the agency’s investigation so far, it was unable to exonerate any of the local manufacturers totaling about 20 companies in the country.
Stressing other areas of compromise on the quality of iron and steel by manufacturers in the country, Odumodu said the SON also observed serious violations in the area of length of various units of steel products.
He also identified that apart from the standards violation in terms of physical properties like diameter and length, the manufacturers also failed to meet acceptable standards in the area of chemical properties such as carbon and manganese content.
As for the content of carbon, which is an impurity, per unit product, the SON boss stated that most products in the market at the moment had in excess of 0.37 per cent which violates the stipulated standards for iron and steel products coded as NIS 117 of 2004 and BS 4449 of 2005.
Odumodu also stated that from the survey of the market, they discovered that apart from cutting corners on quality, the manufacturers could also be defrauding and shortchanging the federal and state governments in terms adequate taxes and levies payment.
“The kind of feedback we got from our survey showed that most of them never had invoices. We have a situation where people pay N200 million for a consignment without an invoice. They just say pay into a certain account, there is no invoice, there is no Value Added Tax (VAT).
It became also obvious that they are also shortchanging the federal government of Nigeria because if there are no documents to show the cost of the product as against other applicable taxes, it means that the federal government is being shortchanged,” he said.
Enumerating the actual steps to be taken to remedy the situation, Odumodu said: “We have decided on a number of actions to immediately reverse the situation.
Effective from today, no sales of reinforcement bars can happen in Nigeria without verification scaling which means that if a batch is normally supposed to weigh 40 tonnes, it must be weighed before it leaves the premises of the seller. If it is not weighed, let me warn, those people who are dealers will become responsible for whatever violations that may have occurred.”
“The SON staff will continue to measure the calibration status of the weighing equipment that are used in the factories and any company that is found with the intention of cheating the consumer, will be sealed for a minimum of 90 days no matter what your reasons are, once the scale does not comply with the calibration status as required by law, you will be punished and this become effective today (yesterday).”