The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) recently raised an alarm over the influx of used tyres into the country and called on the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) to step up its operations to check the trend. SON was vehement that the predisposition of motorists to buy and use these tyres was dangerous and also a major contributing factor to the high accident rate in the country. The standards watchdog noted that despite the dangers inherent in the use of these tyres, some of which are already expired as at the time they are bought, many motorists still find them attractive. It emphasised the need for the FRSC to expand its operational efforts to tackle their importation into the country as part of measures towards reducing road crashes in the country.
The fears expressed by SON are not unfounded. That the majority of vehicles plying Nigeria’s roads use these tyres is a well-known fact. Used tyres or ‘Tokunbo’, as they are popularly called in local parlance, are a first choice for many motorists in the country today, especially among commercial motorists. The reason is not far-fetched; these tyres are popular for their low cost, considering the economic situation in the country. Investigations show that they are sometimes sold at half the cost of new ones. Apart from used tyres, expired ones are also a major risk factor in road accidents in the country. Many accidents resulting from burst tyres while driving could be traced to expired tyres. Vehicle tyres are very important components in driving; they are the part of the vehicle that come in direct contact with the road surface, hence the need to ensure that only good tyres are used. Many people have lost their lives in unfortunate road crashes due to the use of tyres that are expired and no longer safe.
While we note that it amounts to self-indictment for SON, the body saddled with the duty of ensuring standards, to be crying out over something it should control, we also note that it is imperative that the FRSC takes the charge from SON seriously and steps up advocacy against the use of substandard tyres. Many motorists are ignorant of the fact that tyres do expire and so some even buy brand new tyres that are already expired or near their expiry dates. Sensitisation must also be carried out in this regard, to educate motorists on which tyres to buy and which not to buy. In addition to this, there ought to be concerted efforts by all agencies concerned, including SON and the Nigeria Customs Service, to see to it that the importation of already used tyres into the country is checked. Nigerians may not be interested in which agency is responsible for what, as long as safety standards are enforced and accident statistics considerably reduced.