More Nigerian lives are in danger as some individuals have formed the habit of rethreading old and worn out tyres in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and selling to unsuspecting buyers. AGBO-PAUL AUGUSTINE (Abuja) reports.
As the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) tightens its noose on motorists using expired tyres, findings by LEADERSHIP Weekend has revealed a frightening development that may have put the lives of millions of Nigerians in grave danger.
The grip by the commission in recent times over the use of expired tyres by motorists on Nigerian roads has given rise to a group of dare devil traders who have come up with a devise to subvert the efforts of the organisation.
After four months of investigations by our reporter on markets, hideouts and crannies around the FCT,it was revealed that old tyres are frequently being refurbished using specialised imported tyre threading machines.
This evil minded Nigerians in order to meet the demands of FRSC on tyre standard which by the compliance regulations of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) must have a life span of four to five years after production, have been rethreading old tyres to make them look recent and inscription of new production date.
Several unsuspecting customers have been buying this dangerous tyres unknown to them the dangers lurking around their lives.
A local technician based in Suleja had alerted LEADERSHIP Weekend on the unwholesome act by the evil minded traders after spotting the men in the act around the Zuba motor parts market in Gwagwalada area council.
After months of investigation, LEADERSHIP Weekend spotted the traders around the Patenka area rethreading old tyres and stamping new date of production. On sensing the interest shown to the new development by our correspondent, the men became uncomfortable and 24 hours later the men moved out of the place.
They are said to operate under the guise of threading burst tyres but behind the open space is a machine that rethreads worn out tyres.
The scary acts by the individuals, some tyre dealers in the market told LEADERSHIP Weekend has been encouraged by the hike in the prices of tyres both new and used tyres.
The hike in prices of goods and services across the various sectors of the Nigerian economy has forced several motorists to turn to second hand tyres as the prices of the new tyres have gone up astronomically in recent times.
The people in the act are exploiting the rush for second hand tyres by Nigerians and putting the lives of many at risk of death from accident caused by tyre burst.
After being worn out, a rethreaded tyre stands the risk of bursting at high temperature as the thickness of the tyre may not be able to withstand the combined weight of the vehicle and its occupants, risking fatality.
LEADERSHIP Weekend learnt that the group of people have moved out the market to another location to avoid the wrath of the law. It was also discovered that they have not been operating in insolation of some tyre dealers around the market who have been patronising them.
When our correspondent visited the Zuba main tyre market, customers were seen buying mainly used tyres in droves, many are ignorant of the ugly development nearby.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP Weekend on the matter, Vice Chairman of Zuba Tyre Dealers and Accessories Association, Mr Obiora Owoh, denied any knowledge of the act. He absolved his members of any wrong doing in the selling of tyres.
“If there is any abuse of tyres, our duty is to stamp it out. People have been peddling rumours, we don’t engage in such act even as the market prices have gone up”, he insisted.
He told LEADERSHIP Weekend that the association on its own last year invited SON to carry out sensitisation for all dealers in the market.
“They burnt all expired tyres both new and old with several security operatives who came to monitor the operation. It was only at this market that such exercise was carried out in the FCT”, he added.
On efforts to check its members, Owoh said that the association has a taskforce which moves around the market to ensure that standard is maintained by members.
According to him, the association had identified all expired tyres and planning to invite SON to destroy them soon.
Owoh lamented that Nigeria has over 50 million vehicles in the country but has no single tyre manufacturing company operating today.
He urged the federal government to partner with the association to invite investors to build tyre manufacturing companies in the country, while seeking assistance from the Central Bank of Nigeria to enable them avail Nigerians the best tyres that will secure the lives of motorists in the country.
Reacting to the development, Secretary General, General Scrap Dealers Association of Nigeria, Zuba Branch, Sani Ismail Bulkure, expressed shock at the matter even as the culprits operate near the scrap market.
“We don’t deal with tyres, rather we burn tyres for wires and deal with scrap metals, iron and have been operating for more than 30 years. We are about 1, 500 traders in this market that make a living through scrap metals”, he said.
Bulkure denied any knowledge of individuals in the act of rethreading tyres around the market. He insisted that the association knows the operators of every shop owner in the market.
He also said the association has full understanding and collaboration with all security agencies, he emphasised the fact that no matter the level, the association will not shield any erring member.
Speaking on the development, the National Coordinator, Operation Flush Campaign, Mr Mohammed Attah said the FRSC should share part of the blame for mounting pressure on vehicle owners over tyres with four years life span.
To Attah, the prosecution by FRSC of offenders is hasty, humiliating as the physical inspection of tyres may have encouraged evil doers to look out for other means of evading the pressure from the commission.
According to Attah, whose organisation is in collaboration with SON to eliminate fake and substandard products in Nigeria,he is of the view that FRSC should spend more time on advocacy and education rather than arrest and prosecution on matters of tyres.
He said millions of drivers in Nigeria don’t understand how production dates on tyres are read and cannot detect physically bad tyres.
Attah urged SON to ensure adequate control of tyres that come into the country by taking advantage of the amended 1967 Act which has empowered the organisation to arrest and prosecute offenders of substandard products in the county.
He also blamed the economy for the development but urged the federal government not to give room for people to go into the act of rethreading tyres for unsuspecting users.
As the perpetrators moved from Zuba, there are fears that they may be hanging around or producing the dangerous tyres in hiding and many people may be cut in their prime when such bad tyres burst on the road.