By Franklin Alli
The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has begun a verification exercise of the steel sector of the economy.
The steel companies in Lagos and Ogun State visited so far by the agency’s team include Universal Steel Company, Sankyo Steel Mills Company Limited, Phoenix Steel Mills, African Foundries Limited, Monarch Steel Mills, Metal Africa Steel Production Limited and Real Infrastructure Nigeria Limited.
Engineer Bede Obayi, who led the verification team, said that the exercise which would be extended to other states was necessitated by a number of reasons including the revelation that some companies were producing products without putting their identification marks on it, mixing of imported steel with locally produced ones.
“Why we are doing the verification is because government wants to know the exact situation of the companies in the steel sector in Nigeria. This is in terms of installed capacity, production capacity, level of patronage and even jobs created. For example, we cannot be producing the same quality of steel as the imported ones and then, the imported ones would take over the market,” he said.
This he said is an anomaly which should not be allowed, adding that steel companies creating jobs for Nigerians are supporting the policies and programmes of the federal government and should not be allowed to suffer.
He underscored the importance of quality in the products turned out by the steel manufacturing companies, adding that quality is better maintained when the regulators of standards regularly come to the products manufacturers to see what they are doing. He added that this was another important reason of the visit.
“You are aware a lot of buildings have collapsed in the past in this country. We are not limiting the factor to the quality of steel used in constructing them, but once there is a problem, all of the elements will come into question’.
He said at the end of the exercise, the agency would be able to ascertain the country’s exact potentials in steel production, and then appropriately advise the government.
Based on his findings in the course of the exercise, he reiterated that all products being churned out by the steel manufacturing companies must carry an identification mark, as according to him, such is a basic requirement in the enforcement of standards.
Obayi said the agency, under the directive of the Director-General, Dr. Joseph Odumodu has been carrying out routine checks on the sector, to ensure they adhere to the laid down rules as it concerns standards.
He said the agency is doing its best to carry out its mandate of ensuring compliance with standards and also helping to create the right atmosphere and environment for the Nigerian industrial sector to harness its potential by ridding it of substandard products.
Mr. Ajit Amtey, Executive Director of Phoenix, while reacting on the verification exercise, described it as a welcome development which would further help the sanitisation of the sector.