By Kennedy Dimaku.
Tyre is an indispensable part of a vehicle that has been often neglected by motorists. This important component plays major role without which the vehicle becomes immobile. Not too many motorists give adequate attention to the quality of tyre they use on their vehicles. This is evident in the rampant use of used tyres popularly known as “Tokumbo”. The worse is that even the Tokumbo, sometimes is expired, and its use is to the detriment of not only the motorist but other road users.
Nigeria has over 50 million Tokumbo tyres. It has one of the worst cases of road accidents record emanating from tyre disaster. A vehicle with a bad tyre bursts while in motion, for instance. The vehicle leaves its lane and rams into vehicle in another lane in the same direction, or another even on the opposite lane and direction, and lives are lost.
The country has apparently become a dumping ground for expired tyres, not only for Tokumbo but as well as new ones. A tyre from the date of manufacture has life span of three years. It is disheartening that most motorists do not know how and where to look out for the manufactured date of a tyre which would enable them determine when it has expired.
The manufactured date is written in four digit numbers. This four digit numbers show the week and the year it was manufactured considering the fact that there are fifty two weeks in a year.
A tyre which has 1612 for instance, shows that it was manufactured in the sixteenth week of 2012. That is another way of saying that it was manufactured in April, 2012 and since a tyre has maximum of three years life span, this tyre would expire, at most, in 2015.
The rate of nonchalant or ignorance exhibited by motorists on exploring this information is so high that it calls for urgent attention. Only one out of every ten motorists could tell an expired tyre at the point of purchase. Perhaps, this explains the reasons for poor tyre maintenance high rate of accident prevalent in the country.
A motorist who gave his name as Mr Olatunji Adeboye explains that he always buy new tyre from the dealers to avoid having problems as a result of tyre failure. He expressed surprised that new tyres in the dealers shop can expire no matter how new it appears to be. He further stated that he always consulted with his vulcanizer who always advised him on the fitness of a tyre if for any reason he wanted to buy Tokumbo,
But for Mr James Alex, he has never used new tyres on his vehicle in as much as he could get Tokumbo that served him. He added that he did not know much on the manufactured and expiring date of a tyre but could identify a good tyre through physical examination by trying to fold the two edges. He claimed that the method had been working for him and he would not bother on the manufactured date.
A vulcanizer who does not want his name mention on print but does his business in Wuse Zone 6 said he does not need manufactured date on a tyre to do his business in as much as he can work on tyre and earn his daily living. He also noted that he could recommend good tyre for people who sought for his advice but maintain that he sees different number written on a tyre and can not identify the manufactured date.
Reacting to poor tyre maintainance attitude by motorists, The Public Relations Officer, Directorate of Road Traffic Services, Federal Capital Territory, Mr KK Iloduba Jnr noted that the responses they got through the enlightenment campaign showed that people do not have proper information base on tyre maintenance. According to him, “The radio sensitization programme we have embarked upon have been very impactful to the people. In the just concluded ones, people called to appreciate us for educating them on this matter. Some of the people were not aware that even when they go to buy new tyre from the market, they may end up buying expired tyre, its newness notwithstanding. These type of tyres do not last long as soon as they are put in the vehicles.
“Again many people do not also know that a tyre has a life span of three years counting from the date of manufactured”.
The VIO spokesman said that his organization has been arresting motorists and will continue to arrest those who default road traffic rules and regulations, including those who drive with bad tyres stressing that every traffic offense has fine attached to it. “VIO through visual inspection of tyres impound vehicles of defaulters. If any vehicle, for instance is impounded as a result of bad tyres, the defaulter is made to undergo lectures on principle of tyre maintenance, he must show evidence of payment of requisite fine and change those tyres as the case may be under the watch eyes of VIO officer before the vehicle is released.”
Commenting on the principles of tyre maintenance he said, “Motorists are advised to look out for manufacturing date of a tyre which would enable them not to buy expired once. Every tyre has manufacturer’s name, manufactured date and the capacity written on it. They should not over load the vehicle beyond the capacity of the tyre. And more so, they should undergo regular wheel balancing and alignment. For commercial vehicles especially those in long distance journey, wheel balancing and alignment should be done at least twice a month and for private ones, it should be at least quarterly.”
Iloduba pointed out that the importance of spare tyre can not be overemphasized charging motorists to always have a spare tyre that is as good as the ones on their vehicles. He emphasized that a spare tyre is a contingent arrangement that would salvage a situation in case of any break down. “Imagine what will happen if your tyre burst at night where there is no help and you do not have any spare one?” He queried. But he quickly warned motorists to desist from nonchalant attitude of not checking their spare tyres regularly until when they run into problems or have need of them. Such situations, he said, always meet with unimaginable disappointment as tyre deflects air if kept for a long time unused.
On using Tokumbo tyre, he posited,” This is not the season to use Tokumbo. This season is heat period. The heat from the tarmac penetrates through to the tyre and before you know it, it is worn out. This exposes people to more risks especially when they use expired Tokumbo unknowingly.”