Standards body advises on testing of building materials

The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) has urged small-scale construction material producers to use its laboratory services and test their products to ensure quality.
Builders at work. Many building products are not certified for quality.  The New Times/File
Builders at work. Many building products are not certified for quality. The New Times/File

The Rwanda Bureau of Standards (RBS) has urged small-scale construction material producers to use its laboratory services and test their products to ensure quality.

The body says that besides ensuring safety of buildings in the country, the move would expand their businesses to more markets.

Antoine Mukunzi, the director of the national quality testing laboratory at RBS, noted that though the centre has been offering building material testing services since 2011, only a few large-scale construction companies have been using the services.

“There are many people who are not coming here to have their products tested,” he said in an interview at RBS offices in Kicukiro yesterday.

“We still need to market the services we are offering to reach, especially the small construction companies.”

Unlike in the food processing sector, where many firms have had their products tested and certified by RBS, a few building material makers have certified their products.

They include SteelRWA, an iron smelting factory based in Rwamagana District, Eastern Province, CIMERWA Cement and Great Lakes Cement, as well as Master Steel, all of which have had their products certified by RBS.

“A few other major construction companies have also had some of their products tested by RBS, but they are yet to be certified,” Mukunzi said.

He said firms that certify  products benefit handsomely in terms of business returns.

“The certification has given steel bars produced in Rwamagana a competitive advantage when compared with the imported ones,” he noted.

“Before the company was certified, many people didn’t trust the quality steel bars in Rwanda. People are no longer importing steel bars…we have made the sector competitive on local and global markets.”

RBS said its quality seal gives credibility when negotiating business contracts, especially on government contracts, and eases penetration into international markets.

In 2011, the standards body acquired a ‘universal testing machine’ from Switzerland to enable it test the strength and dimension of products like bricks and blocks, roofing tiles, iron sheets, steel bars, cement and concrete products. The body also tests the chemical composition of the same building materials.

The equipment has helped ensure quality of construction materials in the country.

The initial certification for the RBS Mark of Excellence seal costs Rwf300,000 for a single product, according to the charges published on the body’s website.

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