Stakeholders raise issue on ‘inferior’ materials

Workers at a construction site. Picture: FT FILE

Subpar hardware and building materials entering the country remains one of the biggest challenges for the construction industry.

During a recent consultation on updates to Fiji’s National Building Code in Suva, stakeholders raised the issue of “inferior” materials that often found its way into the market.

According to Satish Narayan, a lecturer in Occupational Health and Safety at Fiji National University (FNU), he urged authorities to strengthen the monitoring in place.

“Some of the materials that are coming onto our shores, it does not comply to standards, and I believe there should be a monitoring Government department that monitors such material that comes in,” he said.

Similar sentiments were echoed by Construction Industry Council of Fiji president Gordon Jenkins, who said enforcement had been a problem for years and years. “I do believe that there is a lot of questionable materials in the country and I do believe that it shouldn’t be allowed in the country,” he said.

“I believe the only place that can stop it is at the point of entry at the airports or ports. Those customs officers haven’t got any idea as to what’s good and bad — they might look at it but that’s where it should happen, and I agree.

“Standards should be enforced. If I wanted to import, say cement. It’s cheaper to buy in Korea but I don’t know if it’s any good or not. But these people should be checking these things. If it doesn’t meet standards, take it away.”

In response to the queries, the Director for Department of Building and Government Architect, Andrew Pene, said the Ministry for Industry and Trade set standards for materials brought in the country.

“They have already started with steel standards and regulatory requirements to be able to control and inspect the steel that comes in through the ports of entry,” he said.

“The best way to ensure the quality that comes in is best controlled at Suva, Lautoka and Labasa, so the Ministry of Trade, along with PS Shaheen (Ali) has got those standards sorted out.

“The actual enforcement inspecting officers is with Ministry for Infrastructure, the engineers at the department for buildings so that should be able to roll out and also with the same intentions, other materials that are brought to our attention.”

He said concerns raised at such public consultations would be added on to and included in the monitoring processes.

Mr Pene also said there was a need to establish laboratories in Fiji. “(This) is also on the priority list for the Ministry of Public Works so we welcome all comments on material quality.”

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