JOHANNESBURG - A leading manufacturer has warned that buildings constructed with substandard cement can result in dire consequences for occupants. 

In order to avoid any possible catastrophe the company said it was now testing products manufactured by its competitors for quality

Some contractors have been caught out cutting corners by using a weak concrete mix – using too little, or inferior cement as a cost saving exercise.  

Speaking at a press briefing in Kempton Park on Tuesday, PPC Managing Director Njombo Lekula, whose company is testing its competitors products, said recent tests show that non-conformity of strength and weights ranged from 11% to 73% of the sample set. 

The tests were carried out over a two year period by Beton-Lab - a South African National Accreditation System (SANAS) accredited independent laboratory. These test are meant to ensure that cement products remain of the highest quality possible. The firm was appointed by PPC in 2017

Beton-Lab physically buys cement bags it wants to test from the market and ensures that there is no possibility of interference from any outside party. 

The cement industry is seen as a good indicator of a country’s economic growth as it is the key input material in infrastructure, development and much like the rest of the modern world, the foundation of South Africa is built on this premise.  

However, Lekula, warned that substandard cement products were threatening the built environment industry and placing South African lives at risk.

PPC said 10 competitors’ products were tested by the Beton-Lab and compared to its own products. It was found that some products supplied by cement producers were sub-standard and warranted further investigation.

“We always need to stay ahead and test our competitor's products. Although this may be perceived as trying to thwart competition,” explained  Lekula.

“Usage of sub-standard cement has various implications that may negatively affect the sustainability of buildings and structures thereby leading to increased repair or maintenance costs, injuries and fatalities due to structural failures or collapse.”

A report issued by Beton-Lab showing adverse findings was shared with the SABS and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS). The tests revealed continued non-performance of the cements tested.

Benton-Lab, which has been in the industry for 40 years warned that when buying cement "cheaper was not always better".

“As an independent laboratory our work is tightly controlled, ensuring accurate data that is in no way influenced by outside parties,” asserted Alan De Kock, MD of Beton-Lab.

“Materials have changed over the years therefore materials need to be tested on a regular basis. Substandard products and poor workmanship equals a disaster.”

- African News Agency (ANA)