The influx of counterfeit vehicle spare parts in the local supply chains has reached an alarming rate, with vehicle owners often being victims to dubious traders who sell fake parts to them under the guise that the spare parts are indeed genuine. ANTHONY AWUNOR in this piece looks at the efforts by stakeholders in the automotive sector to end the scourge.
As the automobile industry is growing, it grows along with the activities of counterfeit spare part dealers. With the increasing number of vehicles on the roads, spare parts business has increasingly become lucrative ranging from authorized dealers to quacks and preponderance of fake vehicle parts. Today, the influx of counterfeit automobile spare parts in the automobile industry has reached an all-time high.
However, when it comes to automotive spare-parts, most motorists believed that unless government tightens efforts on counterfeit products like other developed countries, protection of consumers may remain an illusion.
To make the matter worse, government agency charged with the responsibility of ensuring standardisation of products in the country, Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) had said recently that 95 per cent of auto spare parts imported into the country do not meet the minimum acceptable standard, while a more recent figure estimated that about 75 per cent of auto spare parts in the country were fake.
To bring the ugly situation to an end, the National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC) has already started collaborating with relevant stakeholders to ensure that motor vehicles and auto spare parts, both imported and locally produced, that are offered for sale to members of the public in Nigeria meet the required international quality and safety standards.
The stakeholders’ committee has commenced organizing series of training workshops across the country; exposing participants to identification techniques and skills required to differentiate between genuine and substandard motor spare parts with a view to halting or minimizing sales and utilization of substandard auto parts in order to reduce road traffic accidents thereby saving thousands of lives of motorists and other road users annually.
One of such training workshops was held recently in Kano with over 300 participants had speakers drawn from Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), Accident Prevention and Rescue Initiative (APRI), Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Toyota Nigeria Limited, KIA Nigeria Limited, Amalgamated Motor Spare Parts Dealers Association (ASPAMDA), Nigeria Custom Services (NCS), Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), Directorate of Road Traffic Services (DRTS), Robert Bosch Nigeria Limited and NADDC.
In his keynote address at the Kano workshop, Director General of NADDC, Engr. Aminu Jalal, represented by his Technical Adviser, Engr. Abubakar Dalhat, said “Substandard Automotive spare parts in motor vehicles often function improperly, or fail prematurely causing damages or drastic loss of efficiency to the affected vehicle. The implication of the failure of such substandard safety parts in vehicles is often very severe, leading in some cases to road crashes that could cause loss of lives, and in most cases resulting in financial losses, not just to vehicle owner but also to other road users.”
He emphasized that motor parts, whether those classified as safety items or non-safety items must conform to international standards at all times because their sudden failure in service might result in fatal crashes; adding that NADDC in collaboration with SON had so far adopted over 130 international automotive standards for safety and other parts.
The NADDC DG who enumerated other critical measures being taken to enhance standards in the Nigerian automotive industry pointed out that NADDC has achieved almost 90% completion stage in the establishment of world class automotive test laboratories for emission, components and materials located in Lagos, Enugu and Zaria. The laboratories would be commissioned by the end of the year.
Jalal also said that at their request, the SON planned to start implementing Standards Organisation of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Programme (SONCAP) on imported vehicles by requiring that all used vehicles imported into Nigeria have a roadworthiness certificate from their country of origin.
According to him, vehicle assembly plants and local content manufacturers are being encouraged and assisted to produce good quality items and obtain ISO 9001: 2008 QMS certification, adding that “a training programme on ISO/TS 16949:2009 which is a requirement for the implementation of ISO 9001: 2008 QMS for twenty (20) workers of assembly plants in Nigeria would commence this year”.
“Standards are limits of quality and specifications for products that provide guarantee for their optimal safe use. They provide legal enforceable means to evaluate acceptability and sale-ability (usefulness) of products and/or services. They are basically designed to protect the public from questionable designs (function-ability), products and practices. The purpose of developing and adhering to standards is to ensure optimum performance, meet safety requirements and to ensure conformity as well as interchangeability of products and services”, Engr. Jalal explained,
In his paper, Executive Director, Accident Prevention And Rescue Initiative (APRI), Prince Fidelis Nnadi wondered “Why are sub-standard auto spare part products still visible and enjoying some patronage? The answer is simple. It is thriving because the average user does not understand their effect; it is thriving because people do not know the risks involved in using such products. It is thriving also because of the economic situation. A lot of people are very poor in knowledge and purchasing power but these cannot be a good excuse to buy what will cause loss of lives and property.”
In his presentation on behalf of the Directorate of Road Traffic Services, Mr. Ebenezer Bako said 95% of the auto parts imported into the country are fake or substandard.
While emphasising that their concentration had a dual edge, Bako said “First, Nigerians were shocked that they have been toying with deaths by relying on fake spare parts used to replace faulty ones in their vehicles. Second, people were mortified to learn, by inference, that agencies of government upon which we all rely to keep inferior imports away from our shores, including the SON, have largely abdicated their duties, creating in the process a haven for sub-standard auto parts in Nigeria”.
The Chairman of Metallic Components Section of the Local Content Provider of Automobile Spare Parts, Mr. Oye Sholola submitted, “We have well equipped factories where we produce parts like Exhaust system, Hangers, Bumpers, Aluminum die-casting parts of the engine, Door handles, etc and are willing to partner with the original manufacturers to upgrade our facilities if need be to meet their requirements.”
SON Desk Officer SONCAP/ Chief Standards Officer, Mr. Umar Yakubu gave a presentation on “Preventing the Influx of Sub-standard Automotive Spare Parts through SONCAP Certification”
According to Yakubu, SONCAP Certification for Automotive Spare Parts implies that all automotive spare parts particularly the ones for retail in Nigeria must undergo SONCAP Certification.
He however, pointed out that only the following Certifications are issued for automotive spare parts such as Product Certificate II (Registered Status), issued to exporters/suppliers through Route B process (Registration and Conformity Inspection) and is valid for One year; Product Certificate III (Licensed Status), issued to branded product(s) manufacturers through Route C process (process audit) and is also valid for One year.
“The certification is issued to Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) and After Market/Generic part manufacturers who are certified to ISO 16949/QS9001 or any equivalent automotive quality management system. If there is no valid automotive quality management system certificate the company have to be registered and the conformity inspection has to be carried out by the IAFs”.
“The certification is also issued to Dealers/Distributors authorized by the OEM’s or After Market/Generic part manufacturers who have letter of authorization from OEMs; Vehicles are assemblers in Nigeria also are to obtain certification for CKD/SKD and spares parts for their use and for retail to their customers before importing them into Nigeria”.
Customs Comptroller, Mr. Musa Binga delivered the position paper of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) titled, “The Role Of Nigeria Customs Service And The Need For Synergy With Other Relevant Stakeholders In The Prevention Of Importation Of Sub-Standard Or Fake Spare Parts’’
Binga attributed the causes of smuggling of automobile spare parts to include desire to make quick money, scarcity of good quality locally produced auto parts, desire to evade high rate of duty, inefficient enforcement machineries, corruption and lack of proper enlightenment of the public
On its own part, Commander E.C Kalu of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) presented a paper on “The Adverse Effects of Use of Substandard/Fake Spare Parts in Motor Vehicles: The FRSC Perspective”
Commander Kalu listed the dangers of using substandard auto parts to include the fact that counterfeit automobile spare parts pose a serious threat to every motorist around the world as it jeopardises public safety, poses considerable health and safety risk and harms national interest and that it has also been linked with criminal activities such as money laundering, identity fraud and organized crime groups.
“The influx of counterfeit spare parts into Nigeria markets has been identified as a major contributor to increase in the number of RTC cases in addition to its economic effect to the nation. Findings further revealed that many crashes were as a result of the use of substandard and fake motor tyres”.
Continuing, the FRSC staffer said “the use of substandard/fake spare parts causes frequent breakages of major vehicle parts resulting into higher rework and replacement costs. Nigeria requires the active collaboration of the manufacturing, regulatory and enforcement organisations, working closely with spare parts sellers, the mass media and the general public in surmounting the malaise of spare parts counterfeiting”.
He insisted that collective action was needed towards maintaining standards, improving quality of life and preventing avoidable traffic crashes stressing that “substandard/fake spare parts have encouraged consumer preference to fairly used spare parts popularly called Tokunbo over brand new spare parts”.