Planning to do some building? Take extra care when buying cement

14 June 2019 - 12:59
By Wendy Knowler
Before you buy cement, make sure it's certified as being compliant with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications.
Image: 123RF/Norasit Kaewsai Before you buy cement, make sure it's certified as being compliant with the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications.

If you're going to be buying cement, best you take extra care to check for the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications' (NRCS's) "stamp of approval" on the back.

The NRCS has announced that it has taken the drastic step of withdrawing its Letter of Approval (LOA) from one local cement manufacturer or blender, due to its non-compliance to certain strength and labelling standards.

But it's not saying which one.

All cement has to be certified as being compliant with the NRCS before it can be sold into the domestic market.

Of the more than 25,000 tons of cement inspected by the NRCS's chemicals, materials and mechanical division at ports and retailers in the past two years - both locally made and imported - 134 tons were confiscated and disposed of to prevent it being sold, and a significant amount of noncomplaint cement had its pack labelling "corrected" in terms of weight, for example.

"The cement that was destroyed was found not to comply with the specification in terms of correct labelling on the packaging, the strength of cement and the weight," the NRCS said in a media statement.

Interestingly, while China and Pakistan were until recently the main source of cement imported into SA, Vietnam was the major driver of an 85% year-on-year increase in cement imports into the country last year, according to construction market intelligence firm Industry Insight.

Vietnam started exporting cement to SA last March, averaging 50,000 tons a month.

Before an LOA is issued, a cement importer or manufacturer is required to submit a sample of a product and a full test report acquired from an accredited testing facility for examination, testing or analysing to determine compliance.

"Due to this high level of noncompliance, the NRCS has and will continue to consult with businesses within the cement industry to ensure compliance and would therefore like to warn those manufacturing or importing cement without the LOA to refrain from this illegal practice."

The regulator urged SA consumers to look out for the NRCS LOA number which is printed on each bag of cement sold and to inform the NRCS in the event they come across any bag without this number, "for immediate redress".

"This is in accordance with the broad mandate of the NRCS to promote public health and safety, the environment and promote fair trade."