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Substandard building materials in Nigeria

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By Mercy Kelani

Lamentations in Nigeria as substandard building products flood the market.

There have been decries by industry professionals concerning the influx of substandard materials present in the building materials market. This situation intensifies and could lead to more cases of structural failures in the country. The newly brought in substandard materials are mostly prevalent in door handles, electrical cables, iron rods, toilet fittings, and lighting systems. In cases where substandard building materials are used in on a Construction site, there is always a case of low durability and other hazardous occurrences for the sites.

Asides its consequences on construction sites, it could also bring about some economic effects by leading to an increased cost for repairs, Insurance, and replacement. Iron rods, for example, are used for the purpose of reinforcing the concrete in buildings, for high-rise, and to help the construction bear huge loads. It is also required to make sure that buildings are not vulnerable to fire, moist condition, natural disasters, high temperature, and corrosion. However, when substandard iron rods are used on buildings, they become vulnerable to the aforementioned situations.

Materials should be tested in laboratories before use.

Recently, it has been discovered that a reasonable amount of iron rods in the market do not conform with the Nigeria Industrial Standard (NIS) 117 for Steel products. In response to this, the regulatory authority closed down about 13 steel rods Manufacturing firms due to their production of substandard products; this was done in 2021, in a bid to curb the menace of the production of substandard building materials that could lead to many unfavorable circumstances.

According to experts, most of the recent cases of building collapse are caused by the use of substandard building materials during construction, and Lagos State, being the busiest construction location in the country, has accounted for the highest cases. The Director General and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Metallurgical Development Centre (NMDC), Linus Asuquo, amidst lamentation, stated that building collapse is caused by the importation of rods that are manufactured from scraps. As a result, he advised that the materials should be analyzed in laboratories before being taken to construction sites.

The REDAN president believes the SON has more faults in the situation.

Also commenting on the situation of substandard building materials, the President of Real Estate Developers Association of Nigeria (REDAN), Aliyu Wamakko, expressed how difficult it is for developers to figure out the difference between substandard and standard materials. He believes that the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) have more faults to bear in the situation, given that if they are doing a good job, there would not be a prominence of substandard products in the market. Regardless, the REDAN president dropped complaints to the SON and warned members to desist from usage of substandard materials to run building projects.

The immediate former president of the Nigerian Institute of Building (NIOB), Mr. Kunle Awobodu, stated that agencies responsible for the Regulation of such materials, like the SON, are likely overpowered by the magnitude of the situation. He further mentioned that the current situation of Nigeria such as weakened Naira, enforcement challenges, and ignorance makes the influx of these materials possible. To carry out an effective work concerning this challenge, the SON might have to collaborate with associations like the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG).

SON takes samples from markets for laboratory tests.

In reaction to comments on the regularity of substandard materials in the market, the Head of Public Relations, Standards Organization of Nigeria, (SON), Rilwan Fasina, revealed that the agency, through a task force, is currently ensuring the sanitization of the market against hazardous products, such as iron rods. The body carries out surprise inspections on local iron rod manufacturers and takes samples from markets for laboratory tests. Also, it established a compulsory Conformity Assessment Programme (CAP) for certification of every locally produced product, regulated by the SON, and has organized a joint committee with the NCS to enable its quick integration into NICIS II and to face substandard products imported into the country, at every point of entry.


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