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Rainbow Power Cement can’t manufacture or supply cement to SA – regulator

PPC says independent tests reveal 33% sample failure rate of 14 cement products in Gauteng.

Rainbow Power Cement (RPC), a blended cement manufacturer and distributor, has been prohibited by the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) from manufacturing and supplying cement to the South African market.

The prohibition was issued after bags of RPC product were found to be non-compliant with the minimum compulsory safety specifications for cement.

The NRCS has also confiscated thousands of bags of RPC cement and issued a directive to stop the sale and supply of its products.

This information emerged at a briefing on Tuesday by JSE-listed cement and lime producer PPC, about sub-standard cement in the Gauteng market.

Read: PPC recovering slowly

Attempts to obtain comment from Rainbow Power Cement were unsuccessful.

Njombo Lekula, MD of PPC’s Southern African businesses, said sub-standard cement products are threatening the built environment industry and placing the lives of South Africans at risk.

Read: PPC says CFO Ramano to step down

Lekula said PPC tested the products of its competitors to ensure it stayed ahead and, in this process, started realising about three years ago that quite a lot of cement product was not conforming to the compulsory standard “and very dangerously so”.

He said it realised that any attempt to address this issue would be perceived as trying to thwart competition in the market.

Therefore in September 2017 PPC appointed SA National Accreditation System-accredited Beton-Lab, an independent laboratory, to purchase the bags itself – to maintain the chain of custody and ensure there wasn’t any interference from any outside party – and to test the cement products.

Non-conformity

Lekula said the non-conformity of strength and weights of some products ranged from 11% to 73% of the sample set.

At a 73% failure rate, this means that three out of four bags that someone bought were not delivering the strength that was promised on the bag. 

A total of 274 samples, covering ten companies and 14 products, were tested by Beton-Lab, with 33% of these samples failing.

“This failure to conform to local standards not only has an impact on the structural integrity of buildings but also poses a threat to possible damage of property and even loss of life should the walls come tumbling down,” said Lekula.

He added that most of the sub-standard cement products tested also carried the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) mark, the stamp of regulatory approval that also instils trust in the product being sold.

The test report data was reported and made available to the SABS and the NRCS in April last year.

RPC ‘not the only culprit’

Based on the test results, Lekula believes more than one cement producer should have been stopped from producing.

“You cannot go and buy a product every second or third week and find the very same product not conforming week in and week out. That cannot be coincidental,” he said.

Thomas Madzivhe, general manager of chemicals, mechanical and materials at the NRCS, said it, as the regulator, is very committed and passionate about ensuring the safety of users of regulated products.

He said the cement industry has a problem with imported cement, which is not sub-standard, but the NRCS has a problem with cement blenders.

“We are pleased to see this report but would like to look at the information ourselves and see how far can we work together to ensure safety in as far as cement is concerned,” he said.

Read: Imported cement volumes up a staggering 293%

Katima Temba, the executive responsible for testing at SABS, said the organisation has a multi-pronged approach to ensure that compliance with compulsory standards is maintained.

Temba stressed the importance of getting rid of non-compliant and inferior products in the market.

“As per our certification processes, as and when non-conformances are raised, we follow a certain process to sanction accordingly.

“The authorities will name and shame at the right time, when it is right to say who is not complying and what is happening.”

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It’s most probably the same rubbish that was imported in the mid nineties which had no binding power whatsoever and impoverished a lot of discharged individuals who tried to make a living in producing (totally worthless) cement bricks. I personally would like to congratulate PPC for uncovering this scam.

So the SABS may as well be disbanded and the money used elsewhere, as a stamp from them is worth zilch. What a surprise!

At 33% failure rate ought to be enough for it to be the right time to name and shame. In fact it’s already more than enough!

As a developer, property investor, or anyone who’s punting their finances into construction at the moment, you’d be wise to insist on carrying out tests (such as test cubes) through independent facilitators appointed by yourself and to purchase higher strength cement, rather than to go for that which is cheapest.

Unfortunately, as with all things in this world, cheapest isn’t always best, you get what you pay for…although that won’t deter government, but they’re good at wasting your cash in any case and you’ll be lucky to get anything, at all, regardless of it’s quality or standard. (SABS proves my case in point)

Their is very little or no oversight from outside on housing developments taking place and the Buyers from these companies are simply told to get the cheapest products and services.
The collapsing of bridges, buildings, malls and walls should really come as no surprise as companies are foregoing quality and have been for quite some time.

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