PPRA asked to ensure quality of construction material

  • Ministry observes that public organisations are using unlicensed and substandard products without ensuring quality and monitoring process

ISLAMABAD: As the government wishes to construct five million houses in the country in its five-year term, the Ministry of Science and Technology has asked Public Procurement Authority (PPRA) to ensure the quality of construction materials as public sector organisations are using unlicensed/unregistered materials, including cement, steel bars, cables etc.

In its letter to PPRA, the ministry has informed that the quality and standards of construction materials were being neglected in the public sector projects, undermining the life of important projects.

In order to ensure that the construction firms and successful bidders of the projects use required quality material, PPRA has been suggested to make certification of materials prerequisite at the time of bidding and tendering.

Since Pakistan Standard and Quality Control Authority (PSQCA), an attached department of the Ministry of Science and Technology, is the only body to monitor the quality of construction materials, the PPRA should make PSQCA certification mandatory for purchase of relevant products.

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“Making it conditional in the tendering process will not only promote procurement of quality certified/licensed products but will also provide an incentive to those manufacturers who conform to Pakistan Standards. This would concurrently discourage and restrict producers of sub-standard materials,” said the letter of the ministry.

Through the letter, PPRA has also been requested to take up the proposals for adoption of PSQCA Technical Regulations as PPRA regulations in the PPRA Board of Governors with a view to strengthening the quality of procured goods by the public sector.

In another letter sent to Capital Development Authority (CDA), National Highway Authority (NHA), Frontier Works Organization (FWO), National Logistic Cell (NLC) and others, the ministry has informed that conformity of PSQCA standards is required for ordinary portland cement, white cement, masonry cement, steel bars, PVC insulated cables etc.

It has been observed that unlicensed and substandard products of the engineering sector are being purchased by public sector organizations without ensuring the quality and monitoring process.

The construction organizations have also been suggested to give directives to impose a compulsion/obligation in purchase procedure to procure only PSQCA registered/licensed products which fall under 109 mandatory certification items of the authority. The quality and standard of articles is one of the essential and important elements in the procurement process and the same cannot be ignored by the public and private organizations.

NHA, CDA, NLC and FWO have also been requested to discourage the purchase of illegal and substandard products to safeguard the public health and safety, environment protection and national infrastructure.

According to the ministry, the quality and standards of products are an important element in any procurement process and it is the responsibility of all public sector organizations to ensure that no substandard articles are procured in the contracts and works awarded by them.

It may be mentioned that the cement industry has not accepted the standard of PSQCA on the ground that the marking fee fixed by the authority is not reasonable. The cement industry has long been in courts against the authority.

According to sources in the construction industry, apart from legal lacunas, the poor performance of PSQCA has also been an issue in the usage of substandard material in development projects. The producers/manufacturers usually do not trust the authority, which is famed for being one of the most corrupt organizations in the public sector, sources added.

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Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]
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