Importation of second-hand tyres; Need for stringent standards

BY: Vicky Wireko

Last Sunday, someone drew my attention to an article I wrote for this column in May 2011.  The article was on exposed dangers of second-hand tyres based on a research work done by the National Road Safety Commission (NRSC).

  He was alarmed that despite the issues I raised in the article, importation of used tyres was still in full force as if we do not learn.

Though I did not readily recollect details in the said article written over seven years ago, we both lamented on how institutions meant to watch over our well-being have failed us and continue to fail us.

I went into my archives and retrieved the article.  I was alarmed that despite a credible research made public by the NRSC in 2011 on causes of road accidents with as much as 30 per cent of it linked to the use of second-hand tyres, nothing seems to have been done beyond the research findings.  For the benefit of readers, I have extracted portions of the said article to ponder over.

Accident occurrence

Last week, the Daily Graphic, in its issue of May 10, 2011, revealed a research finding from the National Road Safety Commission indicating that second-hand tyres are partly responsible for accidents on the country’s roads.

The study was commissioned with the aim to establish the magnitude of the use of “home-used” tyres in the country and its impact on road safety.  It was discovered that the use of second-hand tyres increased the risk of accident occurrence by 30 per cent.

According to the study, approximately 75 per cent of tyres imported into the country were second-hand.  Using imports from between 2005 and 2007 for example, the study noted that out of the nearly 6.6 million tyres imported into the country, 5.1 million were second-hand.  This meant that for every four tyres imported, three were “home-used”.

The study also found out that some of the imported tyres that came in were not road worthy as their service lives had already expired, while those labelled “snow tyres” were not suitable for tropical environments such as Ghana.  

Based on the study, the NRSC has proposed the need to consider a ban on the importation and use of tyres which are more than six years old, regardless of their remaining thread depth.  A further suggestion was a ban on the importation and use of tyres labelled “snow tyres”.  

We know for a fact that road transport caters for 96 per cent of the national freight tonnage and 97 per cent of passenger traffic in this country.  The NRSC has said those road accidents, apart from claiming human lives and leaving many more injured, cost the nation US$165 million.  This represents 1.6 per cent of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) every year. 

The Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) cannot on its own develop standards and go ahead and ban the importation of second-hand tyres into the country even though it may be aware of its glaring dangers.  However, we believe that given the magnitude of the dangers posed by second-hand tyres, the GSA and the NRSC have to begin to advise appropriate authorities, following the findings, and make a strong case against second-hand tyres after all; the use of research is to establish a truth and take steps to address any gaps.

Some may be opposed to a ban on the importation for reasons such as causing unemployment to a section of the people.  However, what one is asking for are strict standards that would regulate and guide the importation of tyres just as we have standards to guide the importation of used cars into the country. 

Standards for second-hand tyre imports

The person who drew my attention to my article of seven years ago, was right.  We need  our institutions to cater for our interest because we certainly do not need “snow tyres” in a tropical environment neither do we need non-road worthy tyres with worn out treads.  Whose interest would such tyres serve?  So, seven years after the revealing research by an institution mandated to see to road safety in this country, what has happened?  Nothing much.  We still have container loads of used tyres coming through our ports each year exposing us to the increased risk of road accidents. 

Perhaps the Ministry of Finance may want to consider for future budgets, stringent standards for used tyre imports considering the dangers they pose to citizens.

We need for our public institutions and regulators to help protect lives and properties.  By  doing so, we need to set standards that promote quality of life.  Individuals cannot be allowed to hold others to ransom.  We do not need to import worn out and “snow tyres” to add to our road traffic accidents.  The message from the NRSC research must go far.


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