Kampala- Consumer Trust Citizens, an advocacy group has petitioned the minister of Trade to rein in on substandard steel products that are currently flooding the market.

In a petition seen by Daily Monitor, three firms, including Pramukh Steel, Tembo Steels and Modern Steel, are accused of being behind the substandard products and conniving with some dealers to sell them to unsuspecting customers.
However, this newspaper could not independently verify the claims.

In 2010, Uganda National Bureau of Standards temporarily closed Tembo Steels for alleged production of substandard steel products.
Several iron bars were impounded then, which UNBS said did not meet set safety standards.

“Some wholesale traders connive with steel companies that manufacture iron bars that are below UNBS requirements. These [iron bars] are sold at a cheaper prices,” reads the petition signed by Mr Paul Kiranda, an official from Consumer Trust Citizens.
Steel products are required to meet the standard BS 4449 description as well as the high yield strength grade of 460 according standards specifications.

When contacted, Mr Kashyap Patel, the Pramukh Steel executive director, admitted there had been problems before but they had worked on the matter.

“There were some iron bars that were seized [from the factory]. They had some problems but we have since worked on the matter,” he said in a telephone interview last week.

Efforts to get comments from Modern Steel and Tembo Steels were futile as calls to their known mobile phone numbers went unanswered by press time.

Ms Hadija Nakakande, the Ministry of Trade communication officer, told Daily Monitor last week that government had launched a crackdown on firms that produce substandard steel products.
“Soon we will launch a crackdown and we shall not relent until we feel that we have weed the market consumes products that are of acceptable standards,” she said.

Extent of loss

Counterfeits and substandard goods remain a serious threat to the economy with a number of companies losing billions of shillings to fake products. It is estimated that Uganda loses more than Shs1 trillion due to the sale of counterfeit and substandard products, according to a recent report published by South African Standard Bank Group.

souma@ug.nationmedia.com