Director General of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Dr. Joseph Odumodu, last weekend disclosed that only five per cent of blocks sold in Nigeria are molded to specifications of the standard, hence leading to building collapses in the country.
Odumodu stated this at a national stakeholders’ forum on blocks and allied products with the theme: “Safeguarding lives through compliance with standards,” held in Abuja. 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 molded 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.
He added: “What we are doing today is part of the specification process and part of it is to collaborate with the blocks and concrete molders’ association, building collapse professional guild and other stakeholders involved 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 start policing them all about but if we have an association that regulates itself and complies with standards, 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 kilogramme because if a bag of cement is 50kg and a manufacturer puts 45kg, 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; blue is for 42.5 for serious construction like bridges, flyovers and the rest.
“We are going to be working with the blocks and concrete molders 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 giving 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 for its agencies including 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 and provide classified information to regulatory agencies on suspected substandard products.”
Also speaking, Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, argued that President Goodluck Jonathan’s Transformation Agenda was to boost the nation’s economy, reposition its key sectors, empower the youths and create jobs as well as improve infrastructural development and the quality of lives of all citizens.
Anyim, who spoke through one of his aides, Ferdinand Agu, 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.
Earlier, President, National Association of Block Molders of Nigeria (NABMON), Alhaji Rasheed A. Adebowale, had informed that the event was organised for the stakeholders to rub minds 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 mold blocks ever remained topmost in the association’s agenda.
He called on the government to create awareness that would positively make the general public patronize standard and quality products instead of substandard and inferior ones.