The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has moved to ban use of twisted steel bars in construction over safety concerns.
Kebs said that after extensive consultations with local manufacturers it had been decided that only ribbed bars will be made and sold in Kenya.
“Arising from a meeting recently held between Kebs management and representatives of the steel industry and the Kenya Association of Manufacturers, it was resolved that as from April 1, 2017, only ribbed bars shall be manufactured and offered for sale in the country,” said Kebs managing director Charles Ongwae.
“It has been noted that Kenya is the only country in the region that still allows the manufacture and use of twisted steel bars for reinforcement of concrete.”
The April 1 was set to allow players in the industry to clear up their stocks. The construction sector in Kenyan will be needed to use deformed or ribbed steel bars which construction experts say offer reinforced concrete more strength.
The ribs or projections on the surface of the bars provide more anchoring to concrete.
Mr Ongwae cautioned all players in the sector, including manufacturers, the general public, importers and hardware stores to fully adhere noting that the relevant Kenya standard for ribbed bars is KS ISO 6935-2:2007.
The ban is as a result of new engineering findings which have raised questions over the structural properties of twisted bars, which are very common at construction sites.
It is common to use steel bars in civil engineering structures together with concrete to create reinforced concrete structures such as columns, beams and flooring.
Twisted bars are said to have been used around the middle of the 20th century but by the 1980s and early 1990s several developed countries had had shifted to use of deformed bars.
Uganda, in May last year outlawed the importation and sale of the bars. Kenya has in the recent past recorded a string of buildings collapsing attributed to the use of substandard materials including water pipes.