It is no longer news that Nigeria banned the importation of used or second-hand tyres in 2016 over safety and other concerns.
Statistics from the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) shows that 5,562 road crashes occurred in the country due to a tyre fault. Usually tyre fault occurs due to the combination of stress and heat, low pressure, an injury to the tyre through nails and other sharp objects, among others.
The age of the tyre is also said to predispose it to a tyre blowout, which is a leading consequence of tyre fault.
The commission said that in 2016, there were 2,486 vehicles using about 10,024 used tyres, 61 per cent of which were expired.
The Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) maintains that a tyre expires five years from the date of manufacture and all used tyres are classified as substandard.
“The only kind of product in Nigeria for which you can talk about some criteria for used ones are automobiles. But for tyres, there is no standard for used tyres. So every used tyres as far as we are concerned is substandard,” The Nation quoted Director of Media and Publicity, SON, Bola Fashina as saying recently.
Also, the Sector Commander of FRSC in Ogun State, Clement Oladele, described fairly-used tyres as “death waiting to happen”, warning of dire consequences to the motoring public and other road users.
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Despite the ban and warnings from relevant authorities, the used tyre market continues to experience boom.
Some motorists who spoke to Safety Record in separate chats explained that fairly-used tyres have become a darling of motorists because of economic situation of the country.
A motorist, Gbenga Akinlabi, said that he purchases used tyres because of affordability.
Akinlabi, who drives a Toyoto Camry popularly called Big Daddy, said, “The reason why I prefer to buy a fairly-used tyre is basically because of the cost, when I can’t afford to buy a new one.
“If I have to buy a new tyre for my car, I have to spend N27,000. Tyres have expiry date, and if I am buying four and an extra making five, that’s N27,000 multiplied by five. This is a huge amount of money that some people can’t afford. So they go for fairly-used tyre.
“All these fairly-used tyres that we have are in grades. It’s not like they are bad. We have Nigeria-used and “London-used” that are called grade 1, almost like a new one.
“I can get “London-used” for between N18,000 and N19,000. That means I have saved between N8,000 and N9,000. But for Nigeria-used, I can get it for between N8,000 and N9,000. It is just that all those ones are not that okay. It can ‘condemn’ anytime.
“But the main reason people use fairly-used tyres is just because they can’t afford to buy a new one. New tyres are costly most times.”
Another motorist, Thomas Aiyu, equally said that he purchases used tyres because of the high cost of buying new ones.
Also, he lamented that many new tyres being sold in the country were expired and therefore sometimes worse than used ones.
Aiyu, who drives a Toyota Corolla Sport, said, “Many distributors stock new tyres for too long. You can buy a new tyre and it has expired.
“That’s when you will see that a fairly-used tyre could become stronger than a new tyre. Even when they import it to Nigeria, it might have expired already.
“So you’ll think that instead of buying a new one like maybe I should go for a fairly-used tyre that you know that at least you’re safe with.
“You can buy a new tyre and it will get damaged before a fairly-used one. There are more expired new tyres outside.
“You can never say how long it has been in the store or how long it has been on water in the process of importation.”
Asked if he was aware of safety concerns over used tyres, Akinlabi observed that he has been driving for six years and buying used tyres without any major challenge.
He disclosed that he goes for “London-used” tyres, which he says are as good as new, to forestall any threat to his safety while driving.
Akinlabi stated, “There are sentiments in this country but I can go to any length to tell people that fairly-used tyres are good.
“I have never encountered any form of challenge. The work that a new tyre will do for me is still the same work that a “London-used” tyre will do.
“It is the Nigeria-used that are problematic. Some can be weak and have defects. Those ones can be risky. But the London-used ones are okay.”
However, the Ogun State Sector Commander of FRSC, Clement Oladele, said that there could never be any justification for purchasing used tyres.
Addressing the issue of high cost of purchasing new tyres, he advised motorists to approach distributors of new tyres for flexible options of payment.
He said, “I will advise people that, if you do not have money now, you can save money until you buy a brand new tyre. You can approach those that sell new tyres – they know the situation of the country now – and they can give you either rebate or option to pay in instalments until you liquidate the cost of the tyre.”
He noted that, “That vehicle, asset that God has given money to you to acquire if due to carelessness, recklessness and the excuse of poverty, you now buy a fairly-used tyre, if the tyre bursts in motion, you will not only lose that tyre, you might lose your rim, and in some instances you can even lose the entire investment.
“So wherein lies the wisdom that I don’t have money and that is why I want to buy a fairly-used tyre?
“You will now become a man that used to have a car but no longer has a car. Is that the kind of life you want to live?”
Oladele explained that like every other part of the vehicle, tyres have a lifespan that motorists must respect.
According to him, “Those that manufacture vehicles give a timeline, lifespan for every part of the vehicle, the same thing even for tyres, which is also a part of the vehicle.
“The tyre is one of the most important aspects of guaranteeing safety because that is the contact you have between the vehicle itself and the road that vehicles ply through. So you cannot afford to take chances.
“Just as they do in aviation whereby if your tyres are not good, it can cause a crash to the aircraft, it is the same thing also with a vehicle.
“If you have a good tyre, the pressure or PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) of the tyre can cause a tyre blowout, let alone a tyre that has been used and the lifespan has reached its zenith.”
The sector commander emphasised that purchasing used tyres were “like life and death”.
According to him, “It is free to make a choice if you want to live to drive another day or you want to take all the risk, and it might end in disaster.
“We don’t want anything to happen to you because we love you. We don’t want you to die in an avoidable crash.
“If you see fire and you go into it, people will blame you. No excuse and, I repeat, no excuse can justify you to go and use fairly-used tyres because they are like death waiting to happen.”