About 30 shops containing suspected substandard and compromised new tyres were sealed by Enforcement Officers of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria with the support of the Security Joint Task Force at the Apo Tyre Market, Abuja.
The operation was carried out in the early hours as the Traders were settling down to the business of the day amidst subdued protests and pleadings with the leaders of the SON and the Security Teams.
The entire area of the market was cordoned off by tough-looking Security operatives providing cover while the SON Enforcement Officers combed the Tyre Market for supposedly new but already compromised Tyres, wrapped for sale to unsuspecting consumers and motorists.
Three truckloads of the suspected substandard tyres were driven away by the SON Enforcement Team, with a message to the Market Leaders to direct their appeals and complaints to the SON Management.
Several of the Traders were heard asking aloud why the Tyres were not apprehended at the points of entry while others wondered why new tyres produced in 2021 and 2022 could be said to be substandard.
Addressing newsmen after the exercise, the leader of the SON Team, Mr Dauda Yakubu, Director, Standards Development stated that the action was predicated on detailed information on the prevalence of supposedly new but already compromised tyres in the Market.
This he stressed, was in the exercise of the organisation’s powers as provided in the SON Act No. 14 of 2015 to remove suspected substandard products from circulation, investigate the source and prosecute standards infractions.
Yakubu disclosed that SON’s previous effort to remove the suspected substandard Tyres from circulation in November 2021 ahead of the yuletide celebrations was violently resisted by the traders, with injuries to some of its staff and damage to many of its operational vehicles as well as hired trucks.
These he said, necessitated SON’s request to the Security Joint Task Force to protect Nigerian consumers from the imminent dangers from the continuous circulation and sales of the suspected substandard tyres.
“It was also in fulfilment of the promise by the SON Director-General, Mallam Farouk Salim to leave no stone unturned in protecting Nigerians by removing substandard products from circulation wherever they are found,” said Mr. Yakubu.
According to him, many Automobile accidents have been caused by supposedly new tyres that bust on motion and such tyres may have been compromised in the course of importation and or smuggling into the country through the stuffing of four of five into one to evade payment of appropriate duties and taxes to Government.
While displaying several samples of the seized Tyres with signs of squeezed and rough edges, Mr. Yakubu stated that these were due to the application of force during the stuffing and un-stuffing of the Tyres.
He stated that such Tyres pose a grave danger to motorists and passengers, stressing that they have led to avoidable accidents, injuries and loss of lives of many Nigerians.
The SON Director, Standards Development admonished motorists and consumers, in general, to pay closer attention to tyres before purchase by looking out for rough edges as signs of forceful stuffing and un-stuffing, change of week and year of manufacture as well as rough drills and paintings on the surface of the Tyres.
These according to him are signs that such Tyres even if they look new, may have been compromised and thus pose a grave danger to the users.
On further steps to be taken by SON, Mr. Yakubu stated that samples of the tyres were earlier bought and subjected to Laboratory tests and analysis before the raid, stressing that more samples from those confiscated would still be subjected to the same procedure to enable the organisation make informed decisions based on scientific evidence.
On why the Tyres were not apprehended at the points of entry, he explained that the law is targeted at consumer safety, necessitating the removal of the suspected products from circulation first while investigating the source.
According to him, such stuffed Tyres have in the past been discovered to come in either through smuggling or wrong declaration and circumvention of the SONCAP procedure to ascertain the conformity to the Nigerian Industrial Standard (NIS 252:2017) for New Pneumatic Passenger Car Tyres.
He explained that the owners of the seized products and sealed shops would be given a fair hearing as provided in the organisation’s Standard Operating Procedure, while the SON Management would subject the matter to due legal process as usual.