Substandard, poor quality steel being produced for lack of government’s oversight   

— Steel industry urges Govt to appoint full-time head of PSQCA

ISLAMABAD: As production and distribution of substandard steel products are left unnoticed in the steel sector, the large steel producers have demanded appointment of a regular head of Pakistan standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), the only body to ensure quality and standard of locally produced/ imported products, to improve functioning of the important government body.

Through a letter sent to the concerned ministry, the Pakistan Association of Large Steel Producers (PALSP) has urged the government to appoint a full time Director General of PSQCA. For the last one year, the government has not appointed a regular head of PSQCA to steer the organization effectively. 

For the efficiency and proper functionality of PSQCA a full-time capable Head/DG is mandatory, to take responsibility of organization and take urgent needful measures to enforce the PSQCA Standards and Laws/Act in letter & spirit and put a permanent stop to the production and distribution of substandard steel products.

As per the letter, presently the market is flooded with substandard steel materials and there is no check on production and sale of substandard steel. The dilemma is rules and standards are already there but unfortunately they are not implemented/ enforced, providing perfect ground for the culprits that are putting the lives of various people at stake.

There is blatant violation of standards countrywide that is not only creating national risk for the future generations but it is also creating unfair competition within the steel sector because of significant price difference between substandard and quality compliant bars. As a result, the documented and quality compliant sector is at great disadvantage and discouraging further investments and hurdles in achieving economies of scale.

Steel is included in PSQCA Mandatory List and has to meet the standards. So strict enforcement of the Section 14 of the PSQCA Act (1996) is required under which the Mandatory Items notified by the Federal Government prohibit the manufacture, storage and sale of articles that do not comply with the Pakistan Standards.

Also, under Section 22 of the Act, the manufacturers who do not comply with the specified standard should be charged with strict penalties and punishments. 

According to Pakistan Standards (PS) specification for deformed and plain carbon-steel for concrete reinforcement (PS: 1879-2018R, Section 5 – “Material and Manufacture”) the bars shall be rolled from properly identified heats of mold-cast or strand-cast steel using the Electric arc furnace or induction furnace coupled with ladle refining furnace basic oxygen or open-hearth process from Quality steel scrap or its substitute or combination of both. Material of rerolling scrap from ship breaking industry is excluded for direct rolling.

As per the standard the bars shall be produced by following the proper process and meet the tensile requirements. Whereas the domestic market is loaded with the substandard bars manufactured through direct rolling of re-rollable scrap and shipbreaking material/ship plates and fail to meet the strength and elongation tests when measured against the standard.

The menace of production and sale of substandard steel is especially worrisome for Pakistan as it is prone to natural disasters because it comes under a high seismic zone. The usage of low-quality steel into the nation’s infrastructure (homes, buildings, bridges, dams and other infrastructures) is creating permanent risk for future generations because the substandard steel cannot tolerate the shocks of high magnitude earthquakes.

Considering the seriousness of the issue PALSP also offered the government to join hands and rescue the future generations from the probable destruction and loss of lives associated with substandard steel for building and construction. Association offered to provide all the details of culprits involved in the menace and also to sponsor an awareness campaign on the subject issue.

PALSP also suggested the relevant to set up a task force to monitor the quality of steel productions is required, that will strictly monitor and ensure compliance with international best manufacturing practices. This will help to promote the level playing field in the steel industry.

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]


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