Prices of water and plumbing pipes are set to increase by between 20 and 25 per cent as manufacturers incur additional production costs arising from new quality requirements by the standards regulator.
The Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) has set new standards for pipes used in water drainage and sewer lines which specify the colour and type of pipes to be used for mains, inside and outside buildings, above the ground, and sewerage.
They also specify the colour and type of pipes to be used for waste discharge, ventilation, and rainwater.
In a notice issued last week, the standards body said all the 18 plastic pipe manufacturers in the country are required to replace their old stock of pipes with new ones that comply with the new standards by the end of March.
Under the new standards, green pipes will be used for hot and cold water within buildings, while black or blue pipes will indicate that the water is under pressure for human consumption.
Light-grey pipes are for soil and waste discharge inside buildings, dark grey for water supply under pressure, and brown for buried and above ground drainage and sewerage.
The quality changes are meant to bring the sector in line with recommendations of the International Standards for Organisations (ISO).
Doshi Enterprises general manager Vimal Vaghela said consumers will have to spend more in the short term, but added that pipes manufactured under the new standards are expected to last longer thereby resulting in savings.
“The result is that the quality will improve so there will be less of a need to replace the pipes since they will be stronger. It will pay off in the future,” he said, adding that prices would rise by between 20 and 25 per cent.
“We have already started implementing the new standard, but we still have about Sh40 million worth of the old stock and we will see if we can offload it by March 31,” he added.
Kebs’ notice said all manufacturers must supply the bureau with a list of stocks as of December 31, 2010, and the planned run-out date of the stock by March 31, 2011.
“Kebs will monitor the progress of the run-out during audits,” said the standards body.
Manufacturers said the move will make the pipes more durable, and effectively push up the prices as they will require more raw materials to make.
Kinpash Enterprises, production in charge Festus Ndambuki said pipes used for water supply will see marginal price increments, while larger and heavier pipes will see their prices go up with a higher percentage.
Mr Ndambuki said they had about Sh50 million worth of piles in stock.
“Considering that we are at the end of January, we are estimating that we might have about Sh5 million worth of stock remaining and we might have to request for an extension,” he added.
Eslon Plastics of Kenya Ltd managing director Sitash Shah said he might request for an extension.
Kebs said that Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi had already adopted the use of dark-grey colours, while Tanzania was using blue for water supply pipes, “hence the need to harmonise the standards”.
The regulator added that its quality assurance department would ensure that only complying and certified plastic piping products are offered for sale.
The local economy’s recovery has seen the housing sector boom increase demand for plastic pipes, which are not only cheaper than metal ones but are also easier to use and less susceptible to corrosion.