Roy Cokayne

The National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications (NRCS) has confiscated some sub-standard cement imported into South Africa from Vietnam and is investigating complaints lodged about the quality of two other imported brands.

This admission follows the NRCS on August 7 confirming that some 50kg bags of cement in a consignmentimported from Pakistan were underweight, but that it had not found any inferior quality cement on the local market.

Daniel Ramarumo, a NRCS spokesman, confirmed yesterday that it had received complaints from NPC-Cimpor about Vietnamese cement, which was “later confiscated by the regulator” on August 23.

Ramarumo was unable to specify the quantity or the brand of cement confiscated.

He said the NRCS received a second complaint in September about Lucky Cement and had instituted an investigation.

“Samples were taken and we are currently awaiting test reports to determine whether the cement in question is compliant or not.”

A third complaint from NPC-Cimpor was lodged on November 5 about Lucky Cement and Falcon Cement. He said these complaints were currently under investigation.

“Upon completion of these investigations, the NRCS will then be able to establish whether the products in question are compliant or not and take necessary steps.”

Ramarumo denied any complaints about imported inferior quality or underweight cement had been lodged by Pretoria Portland Cement (PPC).

However, PPC chief executive Paul Stuiver said earlier this week that the company had tried to engage with the NRCS about inferior quality and underweight imports but was “getting nowhere” because the regulator had indicated it had tested the cement and it had complied with the standard.

Stuiver said PPC planned to speak to Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel about this issue, particularly as some of the imported inferior quality cement displayed the SA Bureau of Standards (SABS) mark.

“This means regular plant trips. We’ve asked how they do that for cement coming out of Pakistan but are told this information is confidential. That’s not acceptable. We’re not making any headway with the regulator’s officials,” he said.

Ramarumo said the NRCS did not do inspections at manufacturing plants outside South Africa but requested all manufactures to have third-party assessment bodies, such as the SABS.

He said the NRCS inspected all cement on the market produced by local manufactures and importers and asked manufactures and importers to provide the NRCS with SABS audit documentation.

However, Stuiver said PPC was concerned that some cement imports were not compliant with local compulsory standards and claimed some 50kg bags of imported cement were only 45kg while other imported cement did not comply with the SABS strength standard.

Stuiver added that one of the imported cement brands had an elephant on its bags, which resulted in PPC taking them to the Advertising Standards Authority and “getting them stopped”, as PPC has an elephant on its bags.