Uganda National Bureau of Standards-UNBS has impounded more than 7545 steel reinforcement bars and iron bars from hardware shops around Kampala valued at over Sh250 million.
The bars were impounded on Wednesday in an ongoing operation that is expected to last seven days with the aim of enforcing the quality of steel building materials in the country.
UNBS is out to enforce the distinctive mark regulation of 2018 on steel building products like iron bars, iron sheets, and nails among others that are on the market.
The operation is expected to cover the entire country starting with Kampala, focusing on retail outlets rather than manufacturers.
The operation comes at a time when the country is battling the rampant collapse of buildings.
Various reports from the national buildings review board point to substandard building materials as an outstanding cause of the collapses.
Sarah Nantongo, the UNBS Senior Market Surveillance Officer, says that the enforcement operation is timely because they have spent more than three months sensitizing people on the required standards of the materials.
The first day of the operation covered hardware shops in Lubaga, Kawempe, and the central business district.
Most of the shops visited by the enforcement team in Katwe, Nateete and Mengo couldn’t meet the required weight per meter.
“An ordinary Uganda might not understand the standards of these products, that’s why we come in as UNBS to ensure quality standards for the good of everyone in the country because we are mandated to ensure fair trade,” Nantongo said.
Samuel Odeke, a surveillance inspector at UNBS, says that most of the impounded products are unsuitable for construction since they don’t meet the specification.
“If anyone in the construction value chain declares a false measurement, it will harm the entire chain and cause tragedy,” he said.
UNBS intends to arraign the manufacturers of the confiscated products in court for prosecution. However, the standards body has failed to identify the loophole in their system and how these products reach the market.
As the enforcement was going on, various hardware dealers complained about the procedure, saying that they are not aware of the required standards.
“Government is the one responsible for bringing and licensing the so-called investors who manufacture these products. Why don’t they regulate them before production such that they don’t reach on the market?” one dealer asked in.
The proprietor of one of the hardware shops in Katwe was very bitter with the operation and attempted to stop the UNBS team from impounding his iron bars in vain.
He later called in the manufacturer of the iron bars who reached in time and promised to refund his money.URN