That Nigeria may not be a dumpsite
Against the backdrop of the massive importation of used vehicles and other disused industrial products into Nigeria, it is needless to say that the country is already a dumping ground for all sorts of goods. Therefore, the emerging green vehicle revolution in Europe and other developed countries can only worsen the situation as the soon to be discarded conventional gasoline-powered vehicles are sure to find their way into Nigeria. With the environmental and health hazards that are certain to come with this development, Nigerians have a huge task ahead of them. And government as well as all citizens must be on alert.
How to control the influx of used vehicles into Nigeria has always been a huge problem and the new challenge occasioned by technological advancement in Europe and America must be confronted headlong. Appropriate legislations and political will power, therefore, are needed to curtail the unbridled importation. The government of Nigeria must act not only to revive the local automobile industry to save much needed foreign exchange, it must act decisively to save the population from the adverse effects of pollution from discarded wares from other lands.
There is no doubt that Nigeria would be one of the countries that would serve as dumpsites for petrol and diesel engines that are being phased out following the adoption of vehicles that use clean energy in Europe and America.
Already, the cost of solar panels have reportedly fallen by 85 per cent in seven years at the international market, with battery costs dropping by 73 per cent over the same period as demand for electric vehicles increases by 60 per cent each year.
The latest report from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) says the world is at the verge of an electrifying change that would have cascading effect on the entire global energy industry. It adds that within eight years, electric cars in Europe and North America would be cheaper to buy and run than traditional vehicles, which are powered by internal combustion engines.
Experts predict that by 2030, at least eight out of 10 cars plying roads globally would be green cars. Consequently, where to dump the conventional petrol and diesel vehicles would become a challenge and there are indications that Nigeria and other developing countries have been marked out as receiving grounds for the old technology. This, of course, would lead to serious environmental problems for which such countries are neither prepared nor capable of handling.
President Muhammadu Buhari had recently pledged at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, to support a green revolution by taking climate action for sustainable development but nothing has been done to avert the looming dangers in the automotive sector.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), there is an estimated 11.5 million vehicles plying Nigerian roads, which puts the country’s environment and health of the populace at risk.
There is apprehension that except the government acts quickly, the country will become a trash bin for hazardous technology. Government must, therefore, come up with a holistic approach in the form of regulation that enables investors and the private sector to drive green revolution and enforce carbon emission reduction.
That Nigeria is a dumping ground for a wide variety of products from abroad is already a living reality. Over 85 per cent of products used in the country are imported and the inspection regime for suitability is a questionable one. The porous borders and the illegal activities of smugglers as well as corrupt border control officials facilitate the importation of fake products into the country.
Consequently, for any prohibition to be effective, the importation of low quality products should be stopped at the ports and land borders. The onus is on the security agencies quality assurance agencies to do their job without being compromised. If the customs could effectively man the ports, the rate of entry of unwholesome products into the country would be curtailed. Otherwise, once the products find their way into the country, it would be difficult to stop their use.
While the idea of prohibiting importation of used vehicles may be welcome, implementation would be a problem especially as people buy used cars out of low purchasing power and absence of cheaper locally manufactured vehicles.
Virtually all the vehicle-manufacturing firms have closed shop and the local content of the few assembly plants has dwindled to the shame of a country like Nigeria.
At the same time mass unemployment, inflation and low wage have become the features of the Nigerian economy. Practically, all vehicles used in the country are imported.
The average Nigerian is constrained to buy what is available and affordable. That is how Nigerians found themselves in awkward situation and are forced to patronise used vehicles. Besides, vehicles are not the only products that come into the picture. Most products used in Nigeria are imported second hand materials. Only a conscious and determined effort to make things in Nigeria and make citizens consume what is made can save the country.