21 June 2019

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 non-complaint 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

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.”

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