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Nigerian motorists in danger over weak recall policy

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Lives of vehicle owners in Nigeria and other parts of Africa are put at risks over the inability of government, vehicle dealers and other bodies to implement recall warnings.

An auto recall occurs when a manufacturer or government agencies determine that a car model or several models has a safety-related defect or does not comply with a safety standard. When this happens, the automaker will alert owners to the problem and usually offer a free repair.

Vehicle recall across the world, including the Takata air bags, Volkswagens diesel emission cheat and recent revelation that petrol engines are producing high levels of killer emissions, forcing a surge in vehicles recall, but auto dealers in Nigeria are yet to address these challenges.

Owners and users do not usually know their vehicles required additional repair on account of a recall actiojn.

According to experts, motorists in Nigeria may remain in danger if necessary efforts are not taken to tackle key challenges, including provision of accurate information on the number of vehicles imported into the country, reduced import of fairly used vehicles. Alsom there is a need to empower necessary agencies to regulator and monitor rising transport sector challenges, compel representatives of manufacturers to disclose key information, create awareness on vehicle recall and effect recall for affected vehicles.

But since the Takata airbag saga rocks the world and the Volkswagen diesel problem and others, only one auto dealer in the country announced recall and directed owners of the affected vehicles to bring them for repairs.

Takata airbags are supplied to leading carmakers all over the world until it was known to explode. Instead of softening the impact of a crash, the airbags scatter metal shrapnel into the bodies of drivers and front seat passengers. Victims appear to have been shot or stabbed. Dozens of death and injuries have been recorded worldwide.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Ford Motor Company of South Africa, Jeff Nemeth, said inadequate data on the number of vehicles available in the market in Africa hinders effective recall on the continent.

Nemeth, who said government must collaborate with manufacturers to supply details of all vehicles registered in the country, disclosed that manufacturers may be unable to trace vehicles if they smuggled into the country from a different market.

“One of the biggest challenges Africa face is the lack of reliable data on the number of new and second-hand vehicles sold on the continent,” Nemeth, who is also President of African Association of Automotive Manufacturers (AAAM) said.

Managing Director, Automedics Limited, Kunle Shoniake, said unless government enforced stringent policy to compel representatives of vehicle manufacturers to execute recalls irrespective of variants, motorists in the country may remain in danger.

“It is going to continue until government start forcing manufacturers’ representatives to honour every recall,” he said.

Though not all the vehicles have representatives and some dealers would not want to honour recall for vehicles, which they don’t sell, but Shonaike insisted that it was possible and easy for them to do so provided government mandates it.

He said: “It is easy, they just don’t want to do it because they want to force buyers to buy from them.”

Managing Director, Mymoto-XE, Wole Onasanya, said: “People should be worried but in a country like Nigeria, even when you ask people to bring their vehicles they won’t care. They would want to deal with the problem as it comes.

Onasanya, who said though there were practical challenges which must be addressed, believes that Nigerians are only getting what their attitudes demand.

The Director-General, National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Aminu Jalal, said recall problem is complicated in the country because most vehicles don’t come through authorised distributors.

He said buyers, who patronise the grey market and unauthorised dealers were taking a big risk as they would not enjoy the manufacturers’ warranty and recall benefits.

Jalal said since problems are traced to the country where vehicles are being designed to be sold, it may be difficult for manufacturers to trace some of the vehicles.

He however said the NADDC would soon complete a world class laboratory, which would be able to test vehicles coming into the country and ensure that specifications are duly followed.


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