CQHP warns against low-quality construction materials

Some construction materials are being falsely marketed as high-quality, when in reality they are sub-standard, the head of Myanmar’s high-rise building regulator has warned, as concerns mount over poor quality building practices.

However, a scheme to grade the contractors in Yangon may help developers to differentiate between those who are testing their materials and those who are cutting costs and accepting counterfeit products.

Contractors should test the quality of materials before they use them, said U Khin Maung Tint, CEO of the Committee for Quality Control of High-rise Building Projects Construction (CQHP), under the Ministry of Construction.

“Good-quality materials are needed to ensure that buildings will age well, but some materials in the market are not as high-quality as they purport to be,” he said.

Many materials, such as iron rods, are marked with a stamp to show their strength and quality. However, some are being falsely branded, said contractors.

“I have seen some businesspeople sending non-branded construction materials to be branded, to increase their value,” said U Myo Myint, CEO of MKT Construction.

“Some contractors have fallen for this. They should test the materials themselves to be sure of the quality before they use them for projects.”

Most construction companies use non-branded materials, as they are much cheaper. Many have never carried out quality tests, and are unaware that this is even an option, said U Yan Aung, general manager of Asia Construction.

“But we always test the quality of materials before we use them, at an International Organisation for Standardisation [ISO] test centre in Insein township,” he said.

The Myanmar Engineering Society also runs a quality control laboratory for concrete and soil, at its headquarters in Hlaing township. U Khin Maung Tint said there are around eight groups qualified to test the strength of construction materials.

“Our department is responsible for testing materials for projects with more than 12 storeys, and Yangon City Development Committee is responsible for smaller projects,” he said.

However, quality control can be expensive and contractors often avoid it, said U Yan Aung, who is also a real estate consultant. “Small construction firms rarely test the quality. Some focus only on the price,” he said.

Some shops sell conterfeit materials at a discount, but others are un-aware that their products are not the real thing, he said.

Cheap, unbranded materials are also popular in the market, said wholesale and retail shop owners.

“There is no way of knowing the quality of unbranded materials without testing them,” said U Aung Myint, Myittar Mon construction materials wholesale and retail shop at Saw Bwar Gyi Gone.

Those who bother with the expense of testing to ensure their materials will withstand the test of time may soon be rewarded with a higher “grade” under a scheme introduced by the Myanmar Engineering Council (MEC), said vice president U Aung Myint.

There is a need to differentiate between the stronger and weaker companies, he said.

“We will grade all the construction and engineering companies in Yangon, so that it’s clear which type of projects will suit them,” he said. Once this is complete, developers will be able to easily pick a suitable contractor for their projects.

“At the moment, small construction companies without adequate technology or skilled engineers are working on big projects. These buildings are at risk of collapse,” said U Aung Myint.

Last August the partial collapse of a building in Yangon made clear the importance of quality construction. The roof on the top of a six-storey building in Tarmwe township caved in on the flat below, as reported by The Myanmar Times.

U Aung Myint hopes that all companies will be graded within the next year. In the meantime, businesses can register at the MEC to receive a recommendation letter. “We have already given recommendation letters to more than 30 companies, mostly foreign-owned,” he said.

U Aung Min, managing director of Myat Min Construction Company, said he would be interested to see how his company was graded.

“There are many problems in the property market, which has boomed over the past few years without detailed rules and regulations. We need many laws to guide the systematic development of the market and I hope this plan to grade companies will help,” he said.

Source: Myanmar Times

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