Panic as ban of twisted steel bars usage takes effect Apr 1

Twisted steel bars have been replaced with ribbed (deformed) bars. PHOTO | FILE
A wave of panic has swept steel dealers from across Kenya as the government’s ban on usage of twisted steel bars in construction projects draws near to taking effect.

The Kenya Bureau of Standards recently announced that, beginning April 1 builders will only be allowed to use ribbed steel bars for reinforcement of concrete – in what is expected to boost construction safety.

The regulator imposed a total ban on production, importation and usage of the material, but gave traders till April 1 to clear their stocks.

“(Following) a meeting between Kebs management and representatives of the steel industry and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, it was resolved that as from April 1 , 2017, only ribbed bars shall be manufactured and offered for sale in the country,” said Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae.

The directive means that manufacturers, importers and hardware shops that will not have cleared their stock by the deadline are likely to incur huge losses since the material has also been outlawed in Uganda.

Although many industry stakeholders are in total support of the ban, steel traders have lamented that it would take more than six months to clear their current inventory considering the general slowdown in the local construction sector.

“This being an election year, many developers are going easy on projects and this has a direct impact on the rate at which sales are being made,” says Nyaga Mwangi who operates a hardware shop in Kasarani, Nairobi.

READ: Kenya bans usage of twisted steel bars over safety concerns

In recent years, twisted bars – which are commonly used locally – have been phased out in most developed countries due to their poor bonding and structural properties.

The material has been replaced with ribbed (deformed) bars that bear ribs or projections on their surface to provide better anchoring for concrete.

The twisted steel bars ban comes at a time when Kenya is grappling with rising cases of building collapses – most of which have been blamed on the usage of substandard construction materials and poor workmanship.