Henceforth, any motor or vehicle tyres dealer who goes to China or elsewhere to order for the importation of fake tyres into Nigeria would be apprehended to face murder charges. Again, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria [SON] has been on the trail of the dealer on the tyre that recently killed the Minister of State, Labour and Productivity, James Ocholi [SAN], his wife and son as well as an army general. These were some of the disclosures of SON’s Acting Director General, Dr. Paul Angya at an expanded stakeholders’ sensitization forum on tyres in Lagos recently.
At the end of the workshop, participants drawn from SON, Federal Roads Safety Corps [FRSC], Consumers Protection Council [CPC], Association of Nigerian Tyre Marketers [ANTM], Tyre Dealers Association of Nigeria [TDAN], the Police, Customs, the Media, among others, were unanimous that drastic measures needed to be taken in order to stop further loss of lives on the highways due to tyre burst.
Investigation reveals that in 2015 alone, the nation recorded a total number of 8,986 major road accidents out of which 7,022 were through tyre burst and according to FRSC Corps Marshal, Boboye Oyeyemi, 446 lives were lost through auto crashes last year  alone. Angya, who has been in saddle as acting chief helmsman of SON since February 2016, sounded it loud and clear that enough was enough. “We are keying into the Federal Government’s change mantra in the area of anti-corruption crusade.
Dealing in fake and sub-standard products is the worst type of corruption all over the world. When you steal billions of Naira, the citizens and country suffer but remain alive but when you deal with sub-standard products, you are a killer. Our industries have been killed, our people are being killed; we are going after unfair dealers.” To the SON boss, the economy would grow, lives saved and local industries protected if Nigerians stop dealing with fake and sub-standard products like stuffed or worn out tyres.
SON has since swung into action, giving tyre dealers 24-hour ultimatum to evacuate fake and sub-standard tyres or face the wrath of the law.
The agency has commenced tyre registration exercise whereby all genuine dealers are expected to register with the organisation to ensure effective monitoring and enforcement. The SON team already in action has been empowered by law to shut down for 90 days without going to court any warehouse or shop stocked with counterfeit or sub-standard products. The dealer on such product can also be detained for 10 years. Our Correspondent reports that the task force on tyres has its membership drawn from relevant operators including road transporters, employers, owners, workers [NURTW], tyre associations as well as relevant government agencies.
Interestingly, stakeholders have been upbeat concerning how to check incessant carnage on the nation’s highways. To Okechukwu Ezebunna, Vice Chairman, Tyre Marketers Association, something urgent should be done to fix Nigerian roads, stating that bad roads have remained counter-productive to good tyres.
While appealing to motorists to run away from untrained vulcanizers who fix tyres wrongly, he called for intense public awareness campaign by SON and other agencies on the need to patronise good tyres. As far as another stakeholder, Tawoju Bayode of Tyre Dealers Association is concerned, “tyre is life, we will be part of the good tyre enforcement, “tokunbo” tyres should be totally banned as a way of ensuring road safety.”
Another stakeholder, Uchenna Anigbata, believes that the war against bad tyres could only be won if Nigeria imposes a tyre ban on China. He alleged that over 60% of trading companies in China carry out tyre-stuffing business for unscrupulous Nigerians, maintaining that the time has come for a national summit on sub-standard products across the country.
Lawal Ado Yekini of FRSC, Lagos Sectoral Command, said FRSC has been on top of the situation as far as minimizing the rate of fatal accidents is concerned. He expressed satisfaction over the level of collaboration between FRSC and SON on issues of road safety.
According to Mrs. Mba Adaora of the Quality Assurance Unit, CPC, what goes around comes around, maintaining that anybody could be the victim or casualty of killer-tyres, “Anywhere safety is the issue, you will see CPC there. The consumer has a right to safety, if a standard comes out; CPC comes to back up its enforcement. CPC has been partnering and collaborating with SON to ensure safety of consumers and product-users,” Mrs. Adaora stated.
Tyre Technological Know-How
Experts say a car has over 2,000 parts, each of which is important for safety. Tyre remains a critical component of a vehicle. It is a ring shaped component that covers the wheel’s rim to protect it and enable better vehicle performance. Among the early automobile giants are Citroën and Michelin which developed pneumatic inflatable radial tyre method of construction. These tyres are used on many types of vehicle-cars, bicycle motorcycles, buses, trucks, heavy equipment and aircraft.
Experts say there are 10 things to know in tyre use; they are:
· Over-speeding than your tyre can bear: Ask your tyre supplier or refer handbook for the speed rating of your tyres.
· Check tyres minutes before heading down an express highway.
· Each car must also carry a spare tyre
· The nylon threads inside radial tyres heat up due to friction especially on long journeys at high speeds.
· The first safeguard against tyre overheating is to maintain proper air pressure
· Make sure that the’ tread wear indicator’ marked on the side of each tyre is intact. The tyre should never wear down to the indicator ( which is usually about 1.6 mm of tread thickness).
· Check wheel alignment and balancing regularly.
· Take breaks intermittently during long journeys to reduce the tool on tyres.
· Consider inflating your tyres with nitrogen which ensures greater durability.
Before now, SON has conducted several regulatory and awareness activities on motor vehicle tyres. There were the ember-months campaign entitled “Arrive Alive” where enlightenment exercises were conducted for road transport operators on road safety measures. These also involved on-the-spot-testing of vehicle tyres to ascertain their conformity to quality and standard requirements.
As efforts are on to get rid of killer-tyres, SON says it is also training and certifying vulcanizers even as it takes the war to the fake tyre manufacturers in China. SON’s Conformity Assessment Programme [SONCAP], we understand, was conceptualised to take the campaign against sub-standard products to the places or country of origin of such products.
Stakeholders and participants at the forum on killer-tyres agreed that agencies like SON need to be strengthened by the federal government to enable them deliver on their mandate. Apart from not operating at the seaports since 2011, SON has low capacity of 1,400 personnel in a country of 170 million people. However, continuous stakeholders’ engagement has enabled SON to attain mileage. This is one of the strategies it is using to win the campaign against killer-tyres.