Newly launched advocacy organisation Part Worn Africa is calling on governments and regulatory bodies across the African continent to develop and enforce stronger regulations governing the sale of part-worn and second-hand tyres.
Part Worn Africa advocates that part-worn and second-hand tyres be universally and stringently regulated according to rigorous standards and specifications in the same vein as those which originally manufactured tyres are held to.
“There are inadequate legislative and regulatory frameworks and an absence of minimum safety and quality standards in South Africa that describe what may constitute a safe-to-use second-hand or part-worn tyre,” says the organisation.
The inability to enforce stricter safety and quality standards such as those applied to new tyres leaves South African road users, whether they are drivers, passengers, commuters or pedestrians, vulnerable to unsafe, ill-suited and illicit part-worn tyres that may be more affordable, but in reality, cost lives, the organisation argues.
South Africa has one of the highest number of fatalities from road crashes in the world at 25.1 per 100 000 of the population compared with other Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, or Brics, countries and the rest of the developed world.
Combining the statistics for pre-collision tyre bursts and smooth tyres in The Road Traffic Management Corporation 2017 Road Fatality report reveals that these two tyre-linked factors are responsible for close to 60% of the fatal accidents caused by vehicle fault.
“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,” explains Part Worn Africa director Abdul Waheed Patel.
Drivers who may be experiencing financial pressure often choose unverified cheaper tyres without being aware of the associated safety risks, he adds.
Safety certification for a part-worn or second-hand tyre is imperative. 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 organisation points out.
Addressing these issues will also confront an unchecked illicit economy in the trade and sale of unregulated and unsafe tyres, which is also typically characterised by unfair competition, irresponsible business practices and dumping of these tyres on African roads from jurisdictions where they are no longer suitable for use.
Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (SRSA) has partnered with Part Worn Africa as part of its ongoing commitment to tyre and manufacturing safety. SRSA manufactures passenger car, sport-utility vehicle, truck and bus radial tyres at its Ladysmith facility in KwaZulu-Natal, 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 South Africa’s informal tyre sector,” says SRSA CEO Riaz Haffejee.
He adds SRSA’s custodianship of and partnership with Part Worn Africa seeks to advance its already well-established manufacturing, product and consumer safety initiatives such as its ‘SaferThanSafe’ campaign and its Dunlop Container programme, which formalises informal tyre trade in a safe manner in 120 converted containers across South Africa.
SRSA’s latest Used Tyre Survey, which collects data by visiting various second-hand tyre dealers in South Africa, reveals that, in 2017, 58% of tyres sampled were illegal or previously repaired and, therefore, not fit for use on the road. This stood at 61% for the year to date as at August 6.
There are no controls governing the condition of second-hand tyres being sold, and some dealers regroove the tyres themselves. This creates the impression that a tyre’s grooves are sufficiently deep, when the tyre is, in fact, damaged and dangerous.
“Price is the first concern of dealers and consumers, who seldom gain the knowledge required to make good product recommendations or safe purchases,” comments Haffejee.