By Job Osazuwa
Operatives of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) recently stormed some markets in Lagos for a re-enforcement exercise. The aim, it was learnt, was to fish out suspected substandard iron rods.
Accompanied by armed mobile policemen, the state coordinator of SON, Lagos One, Mr. Ugbaja Joseph, led other members of the organisation to the Ifesowapo Iron and Building Material Market at the Orile Iganmu area.
He told Daily Sun that they visited Ifesowapo, following complaints from vigilant customers that there were suspected substandard iron bars at the market. He said the owners of the shops they assessed offered maximum cooperation and assisted in ensuring that the exercise was hitch-free. There were on-the-spot assessments of irons on display. They were checked on meeting international standard/specification for construction.
“We have experts from different fields, who check these products whether they are up to the required quality. Their job is to carry out quality control test on suspected fake products. And we always do this from one product to another,” Joseph said.
He stated that the organisation was established to promote consumer confidence and global competitiveness of Nigerian products and services through standardisation and quality assurance.
The coordinator said it would be difficult for fake products to be eliminated from Nigerian markets, noting that it could only be reduced. He lamented that there were dealers sabotaging the organisation’s efforts to get the market rid of harmful products.
According to him: “They always cut corners to fulfil their selfish interests. If we are too strict at the ports, they will switch to the borders. We are here to protect the masses and to maintain standard. Take the iron bars, for example; they might be used to build houses after purchasing them and you can imagine the danger they pose.
“It is a fight that we must continue because it is our responsibility to do so. We are at the market today to do random sampling. And the latest standard for re-enforcement iron steel bar is NIS 117:2010. We also check the rods’ weight, length and markings/codes inscribed on them by the manufacturing companies.”
A major dealer at the market, Mr. Ademola Adeosun said SON’s mission to the market was welcome, adding that regular checks by the organisation would enable manufacturers to sit up. He suggested that the monitoring body carry out such routine quarterly or more frequently.
“If they are doing this kind of exercise always, the people producing these products will step up on the quality of what they supply to us. If SON finds any of the products we sell here to be below the required standard, it would bounce back on the manufacturers. In this game, we don’t have anything to lose because there are many manufacturers in Nigeria.
“It has been long that l experienced this kind of assessment in our market, but it is not supposed to be so. This is more important because we cannot easily identify fake products except the ones that are obvious.”
He said SON’s frequent presence in the market and examination of the iron bars would give the sellers more confidence to continue to patronise the manufacturers whose products had been certified okay.
Executive Director of Agboola Ventures, Shola Agboola, said he was not trained to identify fake or original iron. He told the reporter that though he always bought from manufacturers with track record, there had been few instances when end users complained after purchasing some products from him.