By Funmi Emmanuel, Abuja.
The Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria, SON, Dr. Joseph Odumodu has raised an alarm about building construction in the country, disclosing that only five percent of blocks sold in Nigeria are moulded to standard specifications.
Odumodu stated this in Abuja at a national stakeholders’ forum on blocks and allied products with the theme: “Safeguarding lives through compliance with standards”. The event also witnessed the flagging off of mandatory certification of Sandcrete blocks and unveiling of new cement bags labeling in Nigeria.
“We did a national survey on the quality of concrete blocks in Nigeria, especially the low bearing ones and found out that only five per cent of the blocks are mould to specifications of standard of the NIS587:2007.
“That actually necessitated what we are doing here today, because we believe that it is important that anything that is remotely or directly contributing to building collapse in Nigeria should be addressed”, he explained.
The DG added: “What we are doing today is part of the specification process and part of it is to collaborate with the blocks and concrete moulders’ association, building collapse professional guild and other stakeholders that are involve in concrete in Nigeria.
“We are also collaborating with them on self regulatory obligation to meet above 20 per cent. SON cannot be everywhere and started policing them all about but if we have association that regulate itself and comply with standards, and then we are on our way to 100 per cent. And for me, if the statistics of five per cent is improved to 20 or 30 per cent within a year, I will beat my chest and say we are making some progress”.
Odumodu said the new cement bags unveiled by the minister have “search numbers for traceability and expiry dates, because they are chemicals and they do expire”.
He maintained that SON was also concerned about storage, saying “we are also working on as well as kilogramme, because if a bag of cement is 50 kg and manufacturer put 45 kg, that will compromise the strength contained in such cement and that is why we are particular about everything that has to do with standard, regarding weight, labeling, search number, manufacturing and expiry dates on the bags”.
“All these must be clearly stated on the new cement bags and some of the manufacturers have been complying. In the next few weeks, the new cement will be all over the country.
“The bags also carry different colours. If it is yellow, it is 32.5 and it is for building and blue 42.5 for serious construction like bridges, flyovers and the rest.
“We are going to be working with the blocks and concrete moulders as well as building collapse control guild in the states. We will give them the list of approved blocks for building and construction to assist them whenever they are approvals in their various states and that is part of ways to eliminate building collapse in the country”, he stressed.
In his keynote address, Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Dr. Olusegun Aganga reiterated the federal government’s commitment to continue to provide the needed support and encouragement to its agencies including the SON to ensure effective implementation of their mandates.
Aganga called on Nigerians to always “demand for quality as a right, take steps to seek redress when dissatisfied with product quality, provide classified information to regulatory agencies on suspected substandard products”.
He also implored all professionals in the building and construction sector, including artisans and Sandcrete Block Moulders to ensure the use of only certified materials and engage only those with requisite knowledge and skills in order to correctly apply the approved specifications in the standard.
“One key focus of standardization all over the world is continually improvement aimed at customer satisfaction and this is only attainable through the diligent implementation of specifications for products and services as prescribed in the relevant approved standards.
“Standards in the selves are dynamic in that they undergo reviews as necessary towards ensuring continual improvement in products quality”, he explained.
The minister noted that the event was part of quality assurance initiatives to implement the mandatory conformity assessment programme, MANCAP for all locally manufactured products in the country.
This, he said was aimed at ensuring that they meet minimum specifications in applicable standards, are safe and would give value for money being offered to Nigerians for patronage.
Aganga added that this would also ensure consumer confidence and repeated patronage that will ultimately lead to increased capacity utilization and employment creation in line with the federal government’s transformation agenda.
He said the right application of specifications in the standard will ensure optimal use of resources, right quality and durability of the moulders’ sandcrete blocks, thus aligning with the government’s aspiration for safe and affordable housing for all nation.
Also speaking, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim maintained that President Goodluck Jonathan’s transformation agenda was to boost the nation’s economy, reposition key sectors, empower the youths and create jobs, improve infrastructural development and the quality of lives of all citizens.
Anyim, who spoke through one of his aides, Ferdinand Agwu, reiterated the government’s determination to drive investments into the country by ensuring that good policies and quality infrastructure are put in place to provide conducive operating environment for investors.
According to the SGF, who chaired the event, the present administration attaches much importance to the building and construction sector, saying it remains vital towards improving the quality of lives of Nigerians and their environment.
Earlier, President, National Association of Block Moulders of Nigeria, NABMON, Alhaji Rasheed A. Adebowale had informed that the event was organised for the stakeholders to rub minds together on how to ensure they are standards compliant.
Adebowale said in line with NABMON’s motto of “Quality is our goal”, quality and zero tolerance for using poor and substandard materials to mould blocks ever remained topmost in the association’s agenda.
He called on the government to create awareness for that would positively make the general public patronize standard and quality products instead of substandard and inferior ones.
By Funmi Emmanuel, Abuja.