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Our experience with substandard building products, by dealers

By Victor Gbonegun
25 July 2022   |   3:56 am
Dealers of building materials are worried about the declining quality of products in the markets due to manufacturers inability to abide by the standards.

Iron rod building materials

• Blame lack of monitoring, officials’ collusion

Dealers of building materials are worried about the declining quality of products in the markets due to manufacturers inability to abide by the standards.

They argued that the circulation of substandard materials could only be averted if government could step up enforcement and increase advocacy to sensitise people, encourage property developers and prospective homeowners to patronise certified products.

The dealers also appealed to regulatory authorities to strengthen implementation of policies and guidelines regulating substandard products in the industry, as well as monitoring of factories to curb the menace.

Industry watchers allegedly blame the production of substandard products, which have become risky to housing development such as iron rods, lighting system and plumbing materials on some Chinese, Indian and domestic firms.

The Guardian learnt that some producers of fake materials have a way of beating government agencies when they bring in or produce such materials, which are relatively cheaper. For instance, substandard steel products are sold openly in the Southwest, Southeast and major markets in the country.

Officials of Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) have recently shut down about 13 steel rods producing companies that engaged in producing substandard products in the South East for non-compliance to standards. They were forced to comply with established production procedures.

Stakeholders attributed the state of moribund steel rolling mills in the country, as part of factors fueling the menace of substandard steel products.

Speaking on the issue, iron rod dealer at Dei-Dei Building Materials Market, Abuja, Mr. Daniel Eneje, regretted the level of substandard products in the market, noting that dealers bear the brunt of fake products.

“Dealers suffer the infractions of the manufacturers. For example, when dealers forward their request for the production of 16 millimeter (mm), they do otherwise. We want the manufactures to give us what we ordered for and not lower gauge of 14 or 15mm,” he said.

Narrating his experience to The Guardian, a dealer/Chief Executive Officer, Samadkunle Investment limited, Mr. Adeniyi Adekunle, said one of the major reasons for substandard products in the market is competition among the manufacturers.

He observed that about 13 years ago, there were six factories producing iron rods but the number has increased to about 20 firms, adding that some of them are doing well, while others are not.

He explained: “Due to competition, the manufacturers try to produce different types of iron rods to cut down cost and remain in business. Most of these manufacturers are the Indians and Chinese, who have their ways of cutting corners and it is really affecting businesses and the masses.

“We tried to report them to SON but we discovered that most of the time the authorities don’t act. They want to take over the markets, edge out existing dealers by selling directly to construction companies, produce different items, sell quality one to construction companies and give to the masses substandard products to discredit the distributors.”

He added: “Some of them want to take over the market and make money by producing substandard material. We collaborated with SON sometimes ago to help but it seems they were backing the manufacturers. What was produced as iron rods before now is better than what is produced today. They will say the products are 12mm and when we measure, we discover that it is 11mm or even 10.7mm.

“These are the challenges we face in the market. Some engineers will not even take the products due to its measurement and sometimes, the marketers will not know they have reduced the gauge. When a structural engineer uses that measurement, the structure will be under-designed and it is just a matter of time, buildings will start collapsing.”

Regrettably, he said ,as some of the manufacturers cut down the quality, the price still keeps increasing. He said: “They keep saying it is the scrap supplier but the government also has a part to play. It is as if they are not controlling any sector. We have within Lagos about 1,000 dealers and each of them has about 10 workers working with them. If the people lose their jobs, how will they survive?

A lighting system dealer based in Ikeja, Lagos, Isaac Madaku told The Guardian that most buyers prefer to buy cheap lighting materials, which are often inferior in quality to reduce overall cost.

He said: “When customers approach our stores to buy white bulbs, if you tell them the price for quality products, they will say that they can’t buy it because it is too expensive. They will ask if there are no cheaper ones and when they buy the cheaper ones, they come back in a few days to complain.

“ I think one of the ways to tackle this concern about substandard products is that our people must develop a strong taste for quality goods. By so doing, when people don’t patronise the inferior products, they will naturally fade away from the market. There are policy and rules guiding importation of fake building products, however, the greatest problem is implementation.”

Also speaking, a Lagos-based dealer in paint products, Temitope Adebayo, said substandard paints are still being sold in the market and urged SON to ensure that uncertified paint products are completely eradicated from the markets.

According to him, defects associated with substandard paints include, blistering and peeling, fading, grinning, chalking, running, sagging, flaking, blooming and others

He explained that the chemicals used in paints production pose danger to human health, as well as the environment, if not properly handled as provided for in the relevant Nigerian Industrial Standard.