Anxiety has quietly pervaded the Nigerian iron and steel industry, as regulator of the sector, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria has began a verification exercise of the steel sector.
The move by SON was geared towards ensuring that only iron and steel products that meet the minimum acceptable standards in terms of tensile strength and chemical composition are allowed to circulate in the nation’s market.
THISDAY gathered that the first phase of the exercise saw the agency paying unscheduled visits to firms and carrying out on-the-spot assessment of steel products in Lagos and Ogun States.
The verification, according to SON, is to be extended to other states in the federation with the hope of bringing sanity the industry nationwide. The exercise, according to stakeholders, would help in establishing reliable data of the state of the steel sector in Nigeria, especially their installed capacity; the current production capacity; employment generation and contribution to the overall growth of the economy.
In the first phase last week, the SON team visited and assessed companies including Universal Steel Company, Sankyo Steel Mills Company Limited, Phoenix Steel Mills, African Foundries Limited, Monarch Steel Mills, Metal Africa Steel Production Limited and Real Infrastructure Nigeria Limited.
Mr Bede Obayi director of SON who led the verification team, said the exercise was necessitated by a number of reasons, including the revelation that some companies were making steel products without putting their identification marks on them, as well as mixing of imported steel with locally produced ones.
He said that “Why we are doing the verification is because government wants to know the exact situation of the companies in the steel sector in Nigeria. This is in terms of installed capacity, production capacity, level of patronage and even jobs created. For example, we cannot be producing the same quality of steel as the imported ones and then, the imported ones would take over the market.”