Low quality materials threaten projects in Oman

Muscat: A number of contractors and experts have warned against the use of defective and low-quality materials that do not conform to the standard specifications. Such materials are reason for cracks in buildings.

As such materials are one of the major factors are threatening investment in real estate, they have urged the competent authorities to intensify the drive against local cement manufacturing companies, apart from keeping an eye on building materials’ shops where the chances of forgery are more.

They also said that the consumers were considered the target of such fraud in building materials. But they can bring the change by choosing only those materials which comply with the standard specifications.

MOCI said that such warnings have come after the reports of cracks in the government and private buildings constructed only a few years back surfaced.

Engineer Nasir bin Abdullah al Abadi, CEO, Eamar Engineering Consultancy, said that there were many types of cement with different compositions and are of different use as per required in the construction.

Al Abadi said, In regards to buildings, the most popular type is ordinary Portland cement. It is used in construction works on the surface of the earth, such as in reinforced and ordinary concrete work, and white plaster works. As for sulfate-resistant cement and salts, they are used in underground concrete work, such as foundations and retaining walls, as well as structural buildings exposed to water and salts. Recently, a new product has come in the market. It is cement for plaster, which should only be used for this purpose.

Nasser Al Abadi said: As an engineering consulting office, we are always keen to use Omani national products. We make it a condition for the contractors of projects we supervise to use local cement (Oman or Raysut), provided their specifications are approved by the concerned authorities. We make it sure that the correct and appropriate type of cement is used at every stage of construction work. He said that the specifications in force in the Sultanate of Oman for construction work and the materials used therein are of Omani, Gulf, British and American specifications. As far as I know, there are Omani specifications for all types of cement.

Al Abadi said that to control the quality and organise this sector, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry needed to find a mechanism in cooperation with other government agencies and professional institutions, such as Oman Society of Engineers, to monitor and examine imported cement to ensure their compliance with Omani specifications. It also needs a mechanism to monitor ready-made concrete plants of the Sultanate to ensure their commitment to using cement according to Omani standard specifications.

He also said that there was a professional and legal responsibility of the consulting offices to verify the specifications and origin of the materials, including cement, used in the construction of the projects implemented under their supervision. They need to conduct necessary checks and tests on ready-mixed concrete materials during bringing them to sites. They have to take samples from them in the form of cubes for examination in specialized laboratories according to the approved local and international specifications.
Salah bin Abdullah al Khumbashi, a contractor for building houses said the control over the cement factories should be tightened and periodic tests inside the factory as well as at construction sites should be conducted. He stressed that tests would be carried out for any cement shipment entering the Sultanate to know the ratio of the materials involved in the cement industry.

Al-Khombashi said:, The damage caused by the low-quality cement shortens the life span of the project, as defects surface in the building soon after completion of the project. He said that the cracks which surface in the residential buildings negatively affect the real estate.

Al-Khonbashi added, ” The project owner must choose competent contractors who have skilled workforce and directly monitors the execution of the work. They must also keep in mind the skills of the contractors. They must purchase cement from the building materials stores recognized by the competent authorities and not import cement from abroad, except after ensuring that this cement was in compliance with the standard specifications of the country.”

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