No SABS, claims the coat­ings in­dus­try

The Star Early Edition - - BUSINESS REPORT - Roy Cakayne

SOUTH Africa’s coat­ings in­dus­try claims the paint test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries at the SA Bureau of Stan­dards (SABS) ap­peared to be non op­er­a­tional, which was dam­ag­ing the in­dus­try.

Deryck Spence, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the SA Paint Man­u­fac­tur­ing As­so­ci­a­tion (Sapma), said yes­ter­day that the SABS paint sec­tion is be­lieved to be op­er­at­ing through a sin­gle em­ployee – a far cry from about 13 em­ploy­ees it used nearly two years ago.

“I know for a fact the SABS is not test­ing paint any­more. About 20 Sapma mem­bers sub­mit­ted prod­ucts to the SABS for test­ing and in­di­cated the SABS had done noth­ing,” Spence said.

“We have a ma­jor prob­lem with them (SABS). I’m not for one minute say­ing the SABS is col­laps­ing, but the paint sec­tion is.”

He added that an SABS qual­ity ap­proval mark was es­sen­tial for any gov­ern­ment con­tract.

“The De­part­ment of Pub­lic Works sim­ply will not award ten­ders for prod­ucts that do not carry the SABS marks of ap­proval.

“This pre­cludes many of our mem­bers from bid­ding for lu­cra­tive gov­ern­ment projects. Yet all Sapma ap­proaches and ap­peals to the SABS have drawn no re­sponse and the SABS test­ing lab­o­ra­to­ries would ap­pear to be non op­er­a­tional,” he said.

Spence said the SABS was charg­ing R100 000 for a com­pany to get a qual­ity mark for a sin­gle paint prod­uct, but coat­ings com­pa­nies could not get the test­ing done.

He said the SABS stan­dards di­vi­sion de­scribed it­self as the only recog­nised na­tional in­sti­tu­tion for the de­vel­op­ment, main­te­nance and pro­mo­tion of South African Na­tional Stan­dards (SANS), which formed the ba­sis for all the other ser­vices of­fered by the SABS, such as test­ing and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion.

But Spence said Sapma was hugely con­cerned about the lack of co-op­er­a­tion it was re­ceiv­ing from the SABS.

“In fact, the coat­ings in­dus­try is be­gin­ning to ques­tion if the SABS is still an ac­tive guardian and pro­moter of qual­ity stan­dards in this coun­try, or even op­er­at­ing at all in key ar­eas.

“There have been in­creas­ing signs of to­tal ap­a­thy and alarm­ing dis­in­ter­est in the past year, based on our deal­ings, or at­tempted deal­ing, with the bureau,” he said.

Spence said the SABS was also the only gov­ern­ment body that could pro­vide the spec­i­fi­ca­tions for qual­ity man­age­ment sys­tems and test meth­ods for the coat­ings in­dus­try.

Ian Plaat­jes, the SABS cor­po­rate ser­vices ex­ec­u­tive, said some of Sapma’s al­le­ga­tions were un­founded but the SABS was still open to hav­ing a dis­cus­sion with the as­so­ci­a­tion with a view to re­solv­ing is­sues.

Plaat­jes said the SABS was com­mit­ted to pro­tect­ing and pro­mot­ing the South African econ­omy by en­sur­ing that prod­ucts and ser­vices were of a high qual­ity and met es­tab­lished stan­dards.

He said the paint in­dus­try was an im­por­tant part of the econ­omy and the SABS worked closely with the in­dus­try.

“It is un­for­tu­nate that the com­ments made by Sapma do not re­fer to any spe­cific com­plaints, es­pe­cially as Sapma has been part of our tech­ni­cal com­mit­tees for more than 20 years and is still an ac­tive mem­ber,” he said.

Plaa­jes did not re­spond to spe­cific ques­tions posed by Busi­ness Re­port.

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