Part Worn Africa, a newly launched advocacy organisation, has called on governments and regulatory bodies across the continent to develop and enforce stronger regulations governing the sale of part-worn and second-hand tyres.
According to the organisation, Africa is plagued by inadequate legislative and regulatory frameworks and an absence of minimum safety and quality standards for what may constitute a safe to use second-hand or part-worn tyre.
The group stipulates that an inability to enforce stricter safety and quality standards such as those applied to new tyres leaves African road users vulnerable to unsafe, ill-suited and illicit part-worn tyres that may be more affordable, but in reality, cost lives.
Africa has the highest rate of road traffic deaths in the world, with 26.6 killed per 100,000 inhabitants. Studies reveal that defective tyres are a leading cause of fatal collisions.
An initiative titled the United Nations Decade of Action for Road Safety (2011 – 2020) called on African countries to implement concrete actions to improve road safety and halve road deaths by 2020.
“Unscrupulous operators take advantage of porous tyre waste disposal processes to gather ‘stock’ for resale, while others resell tyres rejected from other countries outside Africa because they are no longer fit for use. This makes them dangerous, a fact further compounded by these tyres often being ill-suited to Africa’s climate and road conditions,” explained Abdul Waheed Patel, Director of Part Worn Africa.
“There is a need to protect road users by developing, enforcing and monitoring compliance with appropriate legislative and regulatory standards and specifications for second-hand and part-worn tyres, uniformly across Africa. Drivers who may be experiencing financial pressure often choose unverified cheaper tyres without being aware of the associated safety risks,” he added in a statement issued this week.
Part Worn believes that safety certification for a part-worn or second hand tyre is imperative. The group argues that there are inherent limits and thresholds beyond which a used tyre can be reconstituted and repurposed safely beyond its original lifespan.
“Once these limits have been reached, tyres should be safely disposed of in accordance with regulated tyre waste management practice. However, many of these unsafe tyres are returned into the African market, with unsuspecting and financially strapped drivers becoming the victims,” the group said in its statement.
Part Worn Africa will work with governments, regulatory bodies and multi-sectoral interest groups across Africa to address the policy, legislative and regulatory deficits that expose unaware consumers to this major hazard on Africa’s roads.
Part Worn Africa said that addressing these issues will also confront an unchecked illicit economy in the trade and sale of unregulated and unsafe tyres, which is also typically characterized by unfair competition, irresponsible business practices and dumping of these tyres on African roads from jurisdictions where they are no longer suitable for use elsewhere.
Manufacturing company, Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA) has partnered with Part Worn Africa as part of its ongoing commitment to encourage tyre and manufacturing safety. SRSA manufactures passenger car, sport utility vehicle, truck and bus radial tyres from its Ladysmith facility in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, for sale in South Africa and export abroad. SRSA distributes the Dunlop, Falken and Sumitomo tyre brands in 48 African countries.
“The use of second-hand tyres, where the buyer has no knowledge of the tyre’s age or repair history – together with the illegal and highly dangerous practice of ‘re-grooving’ tyres to create greater tread depth – are a significant cause for concern within Africa’s informal tyre sector,” said Riaz Haffejee, SRSA CEO.
“Our custodianship of and partnership with Part Worn Africa seeks to advance our already well-established manufacturing, product and consumer safety initiatives such as our ‘SaferThanSafe’ campaign and the Dunlop Container Programme, which formalizes informal tyre trade in a safe manner in converted container shops,” he added.
As part of the initiative, Part Worn Africa will lend its expertise to national champions and regional actors to heighten awareness about the causes, challenges, consequences and solutions required to address the problem of unregulated part-worn and second-hand passenger tyres in Africa.