The Economy Of Cannibalisation
FROM the Toyota Bus Stop by the Oshodi-Apapa Expressway to Fatai Atere, down to part of Daleko, the Ladipo Auto Spare parts market nestled in Ladipo, a commercial community in Mushin Local Council of Lagos, is big and occupies a large space. Despite the land area occupied, every leg space is used up; you can hardly find a building in the area, whose capacity is not overstretched by trading activities. The situation is such that some private homes have begun to play dual roles of shop in the day, warehouse at night.
Apart from the diverse wares, including secondhand commodities like fairly used handsets, shoes, clothing, household wares and anything one could image under the sun, the market is also known for the sales of variety of auto spare parts — new and used parts from countries across Europe, America Asia and even Nigeria.
For its activities, Ladipo has taken the toga of a vehicle spare parts hub in the West African sub-region. The market attracts traders from different parts of Nigeria and the West African sub-region.
The auto spare parts market is segmented into different sections for different vehicles’ parts and works. There is a section that fabricates and rebuilds different types of spare parts for different vehicles also. So far, you can bring a sample of the auto spare part you want, a prototype would be made within hours or days, depending on the arrangement or the complexity of the parts.
Employing large army of technicians and artisans, this section, described as the engine room, has helped to rejig so many vehicles, whose parts are either not seen in the open market, except on order, or are just too expensive for their owners to buy.
Aside from the engine room, the market has a section that cannibalises vehicles, generally referred to as Mbuka. Here, all manner of old, damaged and unused vehicles are dismembered into parts for buyers, while leftovers are sold as junks or scraps to tinkers or other professionals that work with metals.
Technicians in the market have rejiggered vehicles that would otherwise have being off the road, thus, making Nigerians to save money that would have been used to get another vehicle. Through, their ingenuity, engines belonging to other vehicles have been worked into another, little wonder a Volkswagen Paragon bus could be cruising on a Mercedes Benz engine.
A rough calculation of business going on here, according to Oguzie, a secondhand spare parts dealer, runs into millions of Dollars.
“If you put together all the small business transactions the various traders do from fabrication to welding, galvanizing and outright sales, which sometimes are in their millions of Naira, you will discover that the aggregate business holding in the market would be in millions of Dollars,” he said.
On how the cannibalised vehicles are sought for and dismembered, a dealer, who wants to be addressed as Emma, said, “it is either we go and get them or the owners bring them to us. And for any vehicle to be cannibalised, we must see the original particulars and proof of ownership from the owner, so that we don’t dismember stolen vehicles.
“Besides the chairman of auto part dealers association and his executive members would be in the know of it; in fact, they scrutinise the necessary papers of the vehicle and then give the go ahead order for any vehicle to be cannibalised. We do not just cannibalise any vehicle no matter how promising the offer is, we make sure that they are not vehicles with issues.
“And in place where such papers have been scrutinised and found wanting, the police is usually invited and the culprit arrested. Similar rule is applied where a trader connives with outsiders to cannibalise a stolen vehicle and brings in the parts to be sold in the market. If identified and he confesses to committing the act, he stands to be summarily disciplined, to the extent of losing his shop or holdings in the market,” he revealed.
With standard rules like this, vehicle owners and mechanics are assured of buying parts that would not see them end up in police nets.
Speaking to The Guardian on while they patronize traders that deal on cannibalised vehicles, Michael Eneme revealed that most people patronise the market to get parts for their vehicles, whose parts cannot be got outside the market.
He said, “I use Mercedes Benz 200 car, the parts are not anything you can just see in the market, so, I come to Ladipo once I am in need of it; for me it is where parts of vehicles that have gone extinct are sold. I can’t afford a new car, but with the market I have been able to maintain my car for many years.
“If I compute the advantage I derive from bringing back my car to life and the gains of the Mbuka market, as an individual, it would be in the neighbourhood of a million Naira per year, which I might say is a big money for me, as a small business operator.
“Imagine with N8000, I can now replace my damaged windscreen; if not for Mbuka market I wonder where I would have got a replacement for my vehicle,” he revealed.
Apart from finding a marching spare on vehicles whose production lines have closed, Ishola Daniel noted that he market goes beyond that. According to him it is a market for both old and new; it’s like what the musicians call fusion.
“The market is a mix of old and new. I got a replacement for the door of my Toyota land Cruiser Prado 2011 there, at a little price. Though one cannot vie for all the traders, I know I got my genuine parts there and the vehicle is serving me,” he said.
Speaking to The Guardian, Friday Ojugbeli, a mechanic based in Asaba, said, “the market serves as a second chance to many vehicle owners and mechanics. I came from Asaba to get some spare parts for my customer’s vehicles. Had I not seen the spare parts here, the vehicle would have been written off because I could not get them at Onitsha market.”
With a huge volume of trade taking place there in the market, traders say there is need to encourage them to do more.
According to Anene, a technician, on the average, business transactions worth hundreds of millions of Naira take place daily. He noted that the market has been able to absorb large youth, engaged them into various aspects of the cannibalisation process; selling of the parts, repairs, fixing and fabrication. He revealed that the business is huge and there would be no viable auto industry without the Mbuka market.
According to Nnamdi, a cannibalised parts dealer, people come from far and near to ask for all sort of secondhand parts. “You can’t imagine some people still come to ask for the kick-starter for a Peugeot 504 car; so it could be the parts of any car.
“This is my 10th year in the business, and I must tell you no part of a vehicle is wasted. We sell the parts to mechanics, the body to tinker and the chassis to welders, who use them to fabricate different things, including making security gate and iron works for the house.
“We get the vehicles for example a Volks Passat, at N50,000 to N80,000 and by the time we cannibalise it, we could make up to N500,000 or more, depending on where and the particular period of the year.”
The Mbuka market is huge, helping the auto industry and saving vehicle owners; especially helping to put back on the road custom made vehicles. And with this huge activities going on underground, outside government participation, the people could do more if encouraged with the right amenities. They could also boost government revenue sources.