Take action against companies selling poor quality roofing iron sheets

Contractors replace asbestos roof sheets with iron sheets at Kimathi Estate Flamingo Ward Nakuru County on September 24, 2019 [Harun Wathari, Standard]

The number of companies that produce so-called iron roofing sheets has grown enormously in the past five years.

Many of these companies are briefcases. Some don’t even rent basements. They brand themselves well and easily pass for real companies with decent corporate imagery. However, they barely pay the required taxes. They take advantage of the high demand for roofing materials and often respond to irresistibly lower prices.

However, on closer inspection, their sizes are small. Their quality maybe the worst. They deceive unsuspecting buyers with fresh coats of paint and inviting designs whose patents they don’t own. They don’t manufacture anything. They import almost 100 percent ready-made. They usually cut and/or paint the same.

Such companies engage in aggressive online and mainstream media advertising.

The quality of their roofing is poor and the mabati change color too quickly. Often the design patterns and colors are not exactly what they advertise. There are also fraudulent mabati sellers who take their customers’ money and delay or not deliver at all.

Because the majority do not pay the required taxes and usually employ temporary staff, they can often afford to mislead consumers with what appears to be quality materials for much less.

Drawn by the low prices, reality finally hits the unsuspecting customers when the iron sheets wear out shortly after and they have to replace them. Undersized mabati are lighter, fade and corrode quickly, leading to leaks within a short period of time.

Real dakmabati carry a hard layer that protects the roof from the elements. Their vibrant colors are protected from ultraviolet rays, which translates into minimal and or no color changes. A good quality metal roofing should serve a buyer for an average of 40 years. On the contrary, counterfeit products begin to peel, fade, corrode and/or leak within five years.

What many consumers do not know is that often fraudulent mabati sellers spray their products with fresh and attractive paint and other gritty coatings to cover their false state.

This exploitation must be addressed. First, the government, through the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization, should regulate the use of the word mabati to ensure that the quality threshold set is met. Importers of ready-made mabati disguising themselves as local manufacturers should be prevented from registering a company with the same name and/or pretending to be a genuine manufacturer.

Second, the government should consider amending the Scrap Board Act to provide the Board with a regulatory and enforcement agency for the quality, registration of mabati activities and related matters.

Thirdly, it is in the interest of anyone who wants to build a house to consult experts before buying mabati. The main consideration should be around the lowest convergence point between quality and pricing.

Fourth, because of the apparent loopholes in flooding the country with cheap, poor-quality iron sheets, the government should increase the tax on imported ready-to-eat mabati to protect local industry and consumers. Fifth, the Kenya Bureau of Standards should exercise more market surveillance.

Kenya cannot continue to grow foreign economies on poor quality roofing materials.

It must be made expensive for people to trade in substandard, counterfeit and even illegal products. Destruction of rejected goods at the expense of the manufacturer or importer must be done quickly so that it can serve as a deterrent. It’s time to rein in the cartels that continue to hurt the economy and consumers.

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