The plastic pipe industry in South Africa is facing a crisis that is threatening not only the industry but key infrastructure such as water supply in South Africa.
The current crisis is solely a result of the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) failing to perform in terms of its mandate and its obligations as prescribed in the Standards Act 2008.
Amongst others, the SABS has:
• Failed to renew expired licenses to plastic pipe manufacturers and has offered no indication of when the licenses will be renewed;
• Unilaterally and without consultation, decided in July 2015 to disallow partial testing of products manufactured by players in the industry;
• Failed to ensure that the necessary testing facilities and laboratories are adequate and that the persons responsible for the testing are competent.
The Southern African Plastic Pipe Manufacturers’ Association (SAPPMA) is a voluntary, non-profit organisation that represents almost 90 % of all certified manufacturers of HDPE and PVC plastic pipes in Southern Africa. One of its primary objectives is to improve product quality in the value chain of the industry in order to ensure the long-term viability of piping systems used in infrastructure through its representatives.
“As a result of the SABS’s failure to perform in terms of its mandate, local manufacturers of plastic pipes are no longer able to use the SABS Certification Mark,” said Jan Venter, Chief Executive Officer of SAPPMA.
Venter said that these developments have, and will continue to have, dire consequences for the manufacturers, the industry and the country including: a diminishment of product confidence in the market place; no measurable improvement in product and service quality; disqualifying manufacturers from submitting their products for tender, as manufacturers are hindered in the sale and distribution of their products without the SABS mark of approval.
Despite numerous warnings and attempts by SAPPMA to address this issue over the past ten years, the SABS has failed to take heed of the warnings or implement any programme to avoid the present crisis.
On the 29th of March 2016, SAPPMA through its attorney David Swartz of Phillip Silver Swartz Inc. called for an urgent meeting with the SABS in order to address the issues. SAPPMA has given its members the assurance that it remains committed to finding the best solution for the industry and will continue to give regular feedback in this regard. For more information and updates on the process, visit www.sappma.co.za.