Our Readers' Opinions
April 1, 2016
Unscrupulous businessmen

Editor: I am very concerned about the poor quality of goods and services provided by some members of the business community here in St Vincent and the Grenadines. As a building contractor, I refer specifically to the construction industry where building materials, particularly the ready-mix concrete, seems to be of a sub-standard quality.{{more}}

In recent times, I have witnessed the cracking of floor slabs of several buildings, beyond what would normally be expected. Within a few weeks of casting, long cracks appear in the floor and vertical ones in the beams. In addition to the cracking, the concrete floor can be described as ‘soft’ – very easy to penetrate, even with an ordinary hammer. These and other unusual characteristics observed in these floors, from an

engineering standpoint, indicate poor quality concrete. This leaves one to question: are the suppliers using the required size and clean aggregate, pure water and full strength cement? And are they mixing these materials in the right proportions?

The suppliers of ‘ready-mix’ concrete must ensure best practices, at all times, in its preparation and delivery to the construction sites. Failure to comply with engineering standards is inexcusable. It is only an unscrupulous business person who would knowingly supply sub-standard concrete to his/her customers. In doing so, he/she would be compromising the structural integrity of buildings and that is a wicked act. It is a dilemma for the owners of buildings – the fear of an unsound floor, the worry about additional cost to remedy the cracks; and the most stressful part is when the supplier pays no heed to the reports of cracking – no satisfaction whatsoever to the customer.

Building contractors are greatly concerned about poor quality concrete and the awful pain of our clients. It could be said that it is the responsibility of the building contractors and the owners of buildings to verify that the gauges are proper. So, should a buyer spend over four hours at a concrete plant to oversee the mixing process? Or should he/she hire a material engineer to test every load of concrete? And what if the concrete fails the tests, not in keeping with the requested gauge? This is an area that the St Vincent and the Grenadines Bureau of Standards can look into, if they have not yet done so.

Our Vincentian society was one where trust and fair-play abounded. If we are a Christian people, then we must believe the Bible when it speaks to just weights and measures (Proverbs 20:10; Deuteronomy 25:15,16). Are we now a ‘dog-eat-dog’ society, whereby business people must ‘con’ consumers to increase profit? Is it no longer a good quality to earn fair profits? (See Proverbs 10: 2.). I therefore urge the suppliers of ready-mix concrete to be trustworthy and honest, and to provide the quality concrete which they are paid to deliver in a timely manner. Remember that customer satisfaction is key to your business’ prosperity.

A Builder