‘Compel firms to use local steel’

UNIVERSAL Mining and Chemical Industries Limited (UMCIL) has urged Government to set up regulations that will compel contractors undertaking public projects to use locally produced steel and related products to boost the manufacturing base.

Meanwhile, Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) director general Patrick Chisanga says it is saddening to see that Government departments are not buying locally produced steel, which is of high quality and with international standards.

In an interview after a delegation from the ZDA toured the plant located in Kafue, UMCIL consultant Ernest Mande said Government should help the company in changing the mind-set of people for them to appreciate locally produced steel, which is of high quality.

“Our steel is not compromised; it was also used in the establishment of the Gauteng Railway network. Our products are certified by Zambia Bureau of Standards and South African Bureau of Standards and we are trying to get British standards seal.

“We have written the Ministry of Finance to issue a statutory instrument on procurement that will compel contractors working on public projects to use high quality locally produced steel. Most imported steel do not meet quality standards and we don’t know what has gone wrong because any imported product must be tested to meet Zambian standards before being used,” Mr Mande said.

UMCIL executive technical director Julius Kaoma said the backbone of any economy is to utilise natural resources and add value to it thereby creating jobs and contributing tax revenue to Government.

“We have challenges; government departments are not coming forward to buy our steel and some of the clauses in the investment promotion and protection agreement have not been actualised,” he said.

Later, Mr Chisanga said it is disappointing that government institutions are not supporting its policies.

“This is massive investments, which is in line with Government objectives on industrialisation. We will do our best to ensure that this matter is resolved since the steel is priced competitively and of high quality.

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