Energy Forum Zambia has welcomed the intention by RTSA to propose legislation seeking to ban the use of second hand tyres in the country.
Forum Chairperson Johnson Chikwanda however, says his organization will wait for RTSA to define certain phrases such as their definition of “second hand.”
Mr Chikwanda explained that there is need for RTSA to make the public understand that a tyre can lose its road worthiness before even been fitted to the car.
He said not all second hand tyres are a safety hazard as anything can become a second hand by virtual of it exchanging hands from the time it is purchased.
“Any product can become second or third hand once change of ownership takes place regardless of its age. Thus, a tyre which is one week old is capable of becoming second hand. This does not necessarily make that tyre a safety hazard. Further a tyre can become a safety hazard even before it has been used because compounds which are used to make tyres begin to degrade from date of tyre manufacture and not from date of use.
“As a forum we are constrained to comment to the full length until we have read the proposed legislation and understood how certain critical phrases such as “second hand” would be defined. In fact we would prefer the phrase “used tyres” to “second hand” tyres. It must be borne in mind that a second hand tyre is not necessarily a safety hazard. What most members of the public do not know is that tyres have a life span which commence the day a tyre is manufactured and not when the tyre is fitted on the vehicle.
“This means that unused tyres such as spare wheels can actually lose road worthiness even before they are put to use. It is an old tyre or worn out tyre which is a safety hazard. Most traffic law enforcement officers focus on the “condition of a tyre” and not the “date of manufacture (DOM).” The DOM is written on tyres. This must be addressed,” he said.
He also noted that second hand tyres is big business in the continent including Zambia but that most of the tyres being imported into the country have outlived their usefulness in their respective countries of origin.
“While the forum is not oblivious to the fact that second hand tyres is big business in most African countries including Zambia, it is also alive to the fact that most second hand tyres or rather used tyres being imported in Zambia have actually outlived or are about to outlive their usefulness in their respective countries of origin.
“This is part of a wider scheme of dumping automobile components which include obsolete engine oil. We have seen some engine oils being sold whose cheap formulation is for vehicles that were made in 1960s and 1970s! The Forum is of the view that making it unattractive to import used tyres will reduce the prevalence of used tyres and thus reduce the possibility of unsafe tyres on the market. If this will be the intention of the proposed legislature, then RTSA has a point. The proposed law must define certain terms such as “used tyre” and when it becomes unsafe for re-use and “acceptable age of tyre.” Tyres may be new but depending on date of manufacture, they may be unsafe,” he explained.
He further called on RTSA to widely consult stakeholders.
“On the other hand, a tyre may have been used before, but its age and condition may still be fine. In consultation with tyre manufacturers, Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS), Automobile Dealers, laws in countries of origin of the used tyres, consumer watchdogs and Insurance companies, a reasonable and well balanced law can be passed.
“The law may be designed either to make it hard to import used tyres or to make it criminal to sale, import or use tyres that are beyond a certain age regardless of appearance. We are of the view that it is premature for a cross section of motorists to aver that banning the use of used tyres would not solve road accidents. This is because defective or “old” tyres are a harbinger for some accidents,” he said.