Steel industry group finds inferior rebars made during lockdown

STEELMAKERS found to be exploiting cutthroat competition in a shrinking market. — PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINE IRON and Steel Institute (PISI) has found “substandard” steel rebars and unmarked products in hardware stores in Central Luzon, accusing manufacturers of taking shortcuts during the lockdown.

PISI in a press release on Saturday said that it informed the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) about substandard rebars allegedly produced by Real Steel Corp. and Metrodragon Steel Corp.

The group also found unmarked rebars and rebars embossed with non-registered logos.

“These rebars are banned because their manufacturer cannot be identified, traced and sanctioned,” PISI President Ronald Magsajo said.

PISI took the samples from hardware stores for testing by the Bureau of Philippine Standards at the Metals Industry Research and Development Center (MIRDC).

“Based on MIRDC’s findings, the samples’ lug heights and mass variation did not conform with what the DTI requires to assure the integrity of the rebars for use in construction,” PISI said.

PISI said that steelmakers were exploiting cutthroat competition in a shrinking construction market during the lockdown.

“Some manufacturers and traders are taking advantage of quarantine restrictions and taking shortcuts that, ultimately, will harm the end-user,” Mr. Magsajo said.

“Low mass variation, for instance, is like asking someone to pay for 1 kilo of steel and only getting 900g,” he said, adding that PISI would “intensify” its test-buy operations.

BusinessWorld sought Real Steel and Metrodragon for comment, but has not been able to reach them.

PISI last year listed Real Steel and Metrodragon among manufacturers that it found to have produced substandard steel bars, along with Capasco, Phil Koktai Metal, and Continental manufacturers.

DTI last year said it would investigate the alleged proliferation of substandard steel after legislators observed damages to buildings caused by the earthquakes in Mindanao. The Bureau of Customs also monitored imported steel bars.

The Bureau of Philippine Standards in March approved the Philippine National Standard (PNS) 49:2020 Steel bars for concrete reinforcement — Specification, considering the local engineering code, as well as geographical and environmental conditions.

DTI allows the domestic distribution of deformed steel bars, rerolled steel bars, and equal leg angle steel bars if these products come from plants certified by the Bureau of Philippines Standards. — Jenina P. Ibanez

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