The Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE) on Thursday 23rd February 2023 held discussions on the quality of iron-rods being used in the country. This exercise was in collaboration with Fabrimetal Ghana Limited, a leading local steel manufacturing Company. Stakeholders included Ghana Standard Authority (GSA), Engineers, Architects, Quantity Surveyors, Contractors, among others. In attendance was the Executive Director – Ing. David Nyante, GhIE president-elect; GhIE – Ing. Kwabena Bempong; and Ing. Asare Yeboah, a past-president.
Ing. Joseph Oddei, Chairman for the Civil Technical Division of GhIE, welcomed stakeholders and provided the background calling for this discussion. Ing Oddei pointed out there were growing concerns about the quality of iron-rods being supplied by the market. End-users, especially engineers and architects, have identified quality issues such as iron-rod diameter sizes and their respective tensile strengths not meeting design specifications. Hence, the need to engage stakeholders and converge on the way forward. This discussion has become necessary because:
- Iron-rods utilisation form at least 15% of construction cost.
- Poor quality iron-rods affect the structural integrity of structures.
- Poor quality iron-rods cost more for clients or project owners.
Mr. Eric Gene, MD-Fabrimetal, told stakeholders that the company does not compromise on quality of its products. The company consistently strives to achieve excellence, maintaining focus on producing international standard quality high-tensile FAB 500TMT® rebars at its manufacturing facility near Tema (BS4449/GSA/ISO/BUREAU VERITAS), Ghana. Economical and designed to increase the bonding strength between bars and surrounding concrete, high-tensile FAB 500 TMT® rebars meet construction demands without compromising the environment. With an installed capacity over 150,000 metric tonnes per annum at its local facility, FM Ghana offers an extensive inventory of competitively-priced steel rebars aimed to service the growing needs of construction companies, distributors, vendors and individuals.
The GSA was represented by Ing. Adelaide Aikins. Ing. Aikins walked stakeholders through the process of getting a product standardised in Ghana. She gave details on requirements for iron-rods per the local standard document. These are requirements all local manufacturers, importers of the products – including end-users – should know. She made the meeting aware that GSA has received such concerns under discussion, and measures to deal with them are underway.
Ing. Oddei, presented a case study on seven hundred and ninety-eight (798) samples of iron-rods collected for the past 6-months from the AESL – Geotechnical Laboratory. The nominal diameter (sizes) of iron-rods considered under the study were 8mm, 10mm, 12mm, 16mm, 20mm and 25mm. The data assessed iron-rods’ quality based on two indices or characteristics. These are:
- Mass per metre length (MPM) – this has influence on iron-rods’ diameter (sizes) and their metallurgical properties.
- Ductility (D) – this has influence on the ability of iron rods to sustain structures when they have been impacted by a load, such as earthquake. The structural design principles require ductility of iron-rods to be within design range of values. This relies on the tensile properties of iron-rods.
To understand these characteristics, quality control is paramount. Hence, iron-rods samples should be tested before their use on projects.
Ing. Oddei stated that analyses of the dataset were based on both Ghanaian and British Standards. The outcome showed the following in reference to the two standards:
Table showing Analysed Dataset
|Size, mm||Ghanaian Standard: GS 788-2||British Standard: BS 4449|
|Quality Index,||Quality Index,|
|Mass per metre length||Ductility||Mass per metre length||Ductility|
|Out of range, %||Out of range, %||Out of range, %||Out of range, %|
The meeting emphasised the need to reduce these percentages to improve on the quality features of iron-rods in the market.
There was general agreement that the public should request the services of licensed professionals to supervise their construction projects. In addition, the public should ensure that the right questions are asked at points of iron-rod supplies. The level of interaction with suppliers should be as follows:
- What is the size of iron rods in the metric system (millimetres)?
- Do you have any quality control test results? Please demand it.
- Can you perform physical measurements on sizes?
- Manufacturers identification on the iron-rods.
The public should be aware that not getting the right quality according to design specification is not value for money.