The National Regulator for Compulsory Standards (NRCS) has found no evidence of substandard cement imported into the South African market, said acting CEO and GM Thomas Madzivhe on Tuesday.
Speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria, he stated that, despite complaints by a local cement producer that Pakistan-sourced inferior cement was hitting the country’s shores, an extensive NRCS investigation revealed that the imported cement matched the standards set by the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS).
Acting executive for non-perishable products Musa Ndlovu added that the investigation, which started in 2010 and was completed about three months ago, halted imports of Pakistan-based Lucky Cement while extensive testing of the product was undertaken by NRCS-appointed SABS officials.
Site visits to the factory in Pakistan also found no irregularities.
Further, Ndlovu said that, since 2010, the only irregularity that has been found throughout South Africa was short measure, wherein a 50 kg bag of cement was found to be a few kilogrammes lighter. But, he noted, the quality of the cement was on par with the country’s standards.
Ndlovu and Madzidve said that only the local producers have complained to date and that the builders markets and distributors of the products had not yet reported subpar quality.
However, the NRCS invited industry players to submit complaints should they suspect noncompliance, to further ensure that only quality cement was used in construction.
Madzivke said that the deterioration of relatively new buildings, referring to the recently publicised substandard reconstruction and development, or RDP, programme, was not the result of low-quality cement.
Addressing concerns that NRCS was not properly regulating the quality of cement imports, Madzivke said that he was confident of the NRCS’ system and its effectiveness.
The NRCS implemented a number of control measures, including multiple inspections, testing and investigations and was “happy” with its system.
However, the regulator admitted that low-quality cement could be imported “under the table” or smuggled into South Africa under a different import tariff or product specification without their knowledge
In efforts to sustain tight control over the industry, encourage fair competition and protect consumers against inferior products, the regulator classified cement as a high-risk product, and signed a memorandum of agreement with the South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the South African Customs Administration to work with border police to enforce the NRCS mandate at entry ports.
The NRCS and SARS Customs commissioned a preborder enforcement project at the Durban Harbour and was expected to roll the project out to the Port Elizabeth and Cape Town harbours in September, and the land borders, including Beitbridge and Komatipoort, in January.