Industry leaders flag risk from substandard steel

STEEL-industry leaders have brought to lawmakers their concern about the proliferation of substandard steel in the market that might put some infrastructure at risk.

Roberto M. Cola, president of the Philippine Iron and Steel Institute (Pisi), said low-quality steel is still widespread in the market. In a recent Senate hearing, he told lawmakers to ban the use of induction furnaces for rebar steelmaking, which was already declared illegal in China last year.

“The problem of substandard rebars is driven by economic gain from the market that is not very conscious of product quality and safety.

These are the small contractors and homeowners who are more concerned with the price and cost savings rather than quality and safety,” Cola argued.

He said steelmakers making use of induction furnaces continue to proliferate in provinces, such as Pampanga, Davao City and Bukidnon. The Asean Iron and Steel Council (AISC) had earlier called on their respective governments to act on the dumping of the steelmaking machinery from China to Southeast Asian countries, particularly Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines.

“Our main concern arising from this development is that Asean is becoming a dumping ground for these obsolete and outdated machinery and equipment, which, because of their inherent technology limitations and constraints, could adversely impact the orderly development of the iron and steel industry in the region,” the AISC previously raised in a statement.

According to the group, induction furnaces are proven to produce substandard steel that could pose safety hazard as construction materials. It is also found to consume high energy and, therefore, is dangerous to the environment.

During the Senate hearing, Cola put forward to lawmakers measures to stop the proliferation of substandard steel. One plan of action is to mandate the Department of Trade and Industry’s Fair Trade Enforcement Bureau to conduct nationwide market monitoring and standards-enforcement campaign.

He also called on the Bureau of Product Standards to hold a nationwide information and education campaign on rebar standard and safety. Last, Cola said the government has to implement a more stringent inspection, sampling and testing procedure for imported rebars.

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Elijah Felice Rosales is a reporter for the news outfit covering trade and investments. He graduated with a degree of Bachelor of Arts Major in Literature from the De La Salle University.