The Director-General and Chief Executive of Standards Organisation of Nigeria, Mr. Osita Aboloma, over the weekend, conducted journalists round a warehouse in Satellite Town, Lagos, that was filled with substandard tyres imported into the country by two arrested Chinese nationals identified as Taolung Shen and Xu Jing Yau. The sight left many speechless and others were moved to tears.
Mr. Aboloma said the tyres which are about two million and worth over N5 billion, were the largest seizure of substandard tyres in one swoop in Nigeria’s history. He further described the tyres as dead on arrival, adding that allowing them to get into the market was tantamount to surreptitiously taking away the lives of millions of Nigerians.
According to a statement on Sunday, the suspects were paraded before newsmen, sequel to their arrest, and the sealing of the warehouse where they had been cloning different sizes of tyres under different brand names such brand names as Powertrac, Aptany, Harmony, Duraturn, Bearway, City Tour, Winda, Glory, Chachland, City Grand, Grandsonte (Tyre Type) and Sunny (for tricycle), among others.
Aboloma said the Chinese importers were busted through inter-agency collaboration and intelligence received from “well meaning Nigerians.” According to him, the suspects brought the substandard tyres into Nigeria by stuffing them into one another.
He said stuffing tyres through the long sea journey from China to Lagos had already compromised the quality, not to talk of the crude way the tyres were separated on arrival in Nigeria and the poor storage facility, without sufficient aeration in the warehouse.
The DG said:
“The SON Directorate of Compliance intercepted one of their trucks on the highway, tracked it and then this. You can see the number of tyres brought in and you can imagine the implication for our society if these tyres are let into the market.
“We have over 60 containers of tyres; actually stuffed tyres to be precise. Again, even if these are to be standard tyres, the fact that up to five of them were tucked into one, with operators using rods to separate them from one another when they reached Nigeria, the tyres will naturally become substandard.
“This is because in the course of separating them, the wires and geometrics of the tyres will be affected as the tyres would have bent and ruptured in several places, thereby looking weak and slack.”
Aboloma said on getting to the warehouse, they also unearthed other illegal activities including re-labelling the fake tyres with shinny linings to create the impression of being new and healthy, tampering with expiry dates and stacking the tyres in very bad conditions.
“It is a clear case of investing millions in illicit business in order to take away the lives of millions of Nigerians, to destroy the lives of millions of Nigerians. If we allow something like this, it will amount to killing Nigerians.
“You can see the amount of danger that these people are posing to our people and our economy just because they want to make huge profit at the expense of the lives of Nigerians,” he lamented.
The DG clearly stated that there would be no hiding place for people who dealt in substandard products as they would be caught and their products confiscated. He went on to advise users of automobile tyres nationwide on the need to be extra-cautious when making purchases of such products.
He urged tyre users to henceforth demand that dealers indicate the manufacturing dates on the receipts, so as to make the seller take responsibility on any product sold by them.