Substandard steel bars which are said to have a grade of ‘upper yield strength below 500MPa (500N/mm2)’ will no longer be accepted on the Rwandan market according to Rwanda Inspectorate, Competition, and Consumer Protection Authority (RICA). The said grade means a lack of tensional force resistance per square millimetres. Operators and users have been granted six months to deplete their current stock and no new order is allowed except those done before with proof, RICA announced. The warned operators and users include the public, importers, wholesalers and retailers, manufacturers, and users of steel bars for reinforcement of concrete. Officials said that except for already made and paid-for orders with proven bank payments as evidence, no new orders of the mentioned grade of steel bars shall be allowed. Deo Munyaneza, The Information, Education, and Communication Specialist at RICA told The New Times that the ban on steel bars of a grade below 500MPa was based on regional integration agenda, to implement the harmonized standard. He said that at the regional level, the harmonized standard on steel for the reinforcement of concrete does not accommodate steel bars of the grade below 500MPa. “The effect of using steel bars of the grade below 500MPa was basically on Rwanda because of not implementing a regional harmonized standard. “We gave six months for depleting the stocks because we thought that was enough time for all lower-grade steel bars to be finished on the market,” he said. Local manufacturers hurt by imported substandard products Constantin Rugaba, the Sales and Marketing Manager of Master Steel told The New Times that such imported substandard products have been affecting locally made construction materials. “There are substandard materials imported from neighboring and regional countries which affect locally made construction materials. Many find it affordable to import such products from Kenya for instance, Tanzania and others but their standards do not match with the standards of our products we are locally manufacturing,” he said. “This means that the price of such imported substandard products is lower than our standard products. So, our prices seem higher despite having quality and people often prefer lower prices without caring about quality,” he added. The local firm mainly engaged in steel construction material production – produces about 20,000 tonnes of construction materials per month, which is about four times more than its initial production of about 5,000 tonnes in 2007. Government says it is committed to reducing the big import bill by increasing locally made products, especially construction materials. A study carried out in 2015 indicated that construction materials constituted 10 per cent of the country’s total imports. By this time, most of the steel raw materials were being imported. The study indicates that in 2013, 94,000 tonnes of steel and iron products were imported while the domestic production was 30,000 tonnes of products like metal accessories, reinforced steel bars, metal rolled sheets, metal fabrication, metal and nails. The existing domestic companies include Tolirwa, Afrifoam/Simaco, Uprotur, Master Steel, SteelRwa, Simaco, Ufametal, Safintra, and Imana Steel and most of them intend to expand production.