Substandard structural steel imported in Fiji: Engineer

The central bank has forecasted that Government and investment initiatives announced in the FY2018-2019 National Budget are likely to spur investment and construction related activities in the medium term. Picture: FT FILE

AN eminent local civil engineer has raised his concern on the importation of substandard structural steel used for the construction of buildings in Fiji.

Erasito Consultants Ltd director Terence Erasito raised the issue during the Construction Industry Council (CIC) conference at the Warwick Fiji Resort this week saying this came to their attention after they sent pieces of structural steel utilised in recent local projects for testing overseas, which had proven to include components of scrap metal.

He said the structural steel, which did not meet ductility requirements, were purchased locally.

“We’ve had projects where the structural steel failed under normal working conditions. It was going to be either the design or material that contributed to the failure, but we are very precise in our work so we knew it had to be steel,” Mr Erasito said.

“We cut off sections of the steel and sent it to a laboratory in New Zealand for testing and the chemical composition on the certificate that came back stated that the composition was the make up of scrap metal.”

Mr Erasito said this issue was of grave concern as structural steel and the reinforcing bars that do not meet ductility requirements could be catastrophic during unforeseen events such as an earthquake.

“For instance, under an earthquake, when a structural engineer designs a building, it is meant to sway so the steel has to be ductile which means in the code, It needs to be able to be bent seven or eight times without losing strength.

“The steel that is coming into Fiji is brittle, there’s too much carbon or the chemical components doesn’t meet the ductility requirements the steel needs to be.”

More on this story in the Business section of today’s edition of The Fiji Times and in our E-Edition.