Newly launched advocacy organisation Part Worn Africa is calling for governments and regulatory bodies across the African continent to develop and enforce stronger regulations governing the sale of part-worn and second-hand tyres.
Part Worn Africa will advocate that part-worn and second tyres be universally and stringently regulated according to rigorous standards and specifications in the same vein as those against which originally manufactured tyres are held to.
There are inadequate legislative and regulatory frameworks and an absence of minimum safety and quality standards in South Africa that describe what may constitute a safe to use second-hand or part-worn tyre.
The inability to enforce stricter safety and quality standards such as those applied to new tyres leaves South African road users, whether they are drivers, passengers, commuters or pedestrians, vulnerable to unsafe, ill-suited and illicit part-worn tyres that may be more affordable, but in reality, cost lives.
South Africa has one of the highest number of fatalities from road crashes in the world at 25.1 per 100,000 of the population compared to other BRICS countries and the rest of the developed world. Combining the statistics for pre-collision tyre bursts and smooth tyres in The Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) 2017 Road Fatality report reveals that these two tyre-linked factors are responsible for close to 60% of the fatal accidents caused by vehicle fault. 
“Unscrupulous operators take advantage of porous tyre waste disposal processes to gather ‘stock’ for resale, while others resell tyres rejected from other countries outside Africa because they are no longer fit for use. This makes them dangerous, a fact further compounded by these tyres often being ill-suited to Africa’s climate and road conditions,” explains Abdul Waheed Patel, Director of Part Worn Africa.
“There is a need to protect road users by developing, enforcing and monitoring compliance with appropriate legislative and regulatory standards and specifications for second-hand and part-worn tyres, in uniformity across Africa. Drivers who may be experiencing financial pressure often choose unverified cheaper tyres without being aware of the associated safety risks,” he adds.
Safety certification for a part-worn or second hand tyre is imperative. There are inherent limits and thresholds beyond which a used tyre can be reconstituted and repurposed safely beyond its original lifespan. Once these limits have been reached, tyres should be safely disposed of in accordance with regulated tyre waste management practice. However, many of these unsafe tyres are returned into the African market, with unsuspecting and financially strapped drivers becoming the victims.
Part Worn Africa will work with governments, regulatory bodies and multi-sectoral interest groups across Africa to address the policy, legislative and regulatory deficits that expose unaware consumers to this major hazard on Africa’s roads.
Addressing these issues will also confront an unchecked illicit economy in the trade and sale of unregulated and unsafe tyres, which is also typically characterized by unfair competition, irresponsible business practices and dumping of these tyres on African roads from jurisdictions where they are no longer suitable for use.
Sumitomo Rubber South Africa (Pty) Ltd (SRSA) has partnered with Part Worn Africa as part of its ongoing commitment to tyre and manufacturing safety. SRSA manufactures passenger car, sport utility vehicle, truck and bus radial tyres from its Ladysmith facility in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, for sale in South Africa and export abroad. SRSA distributes the Dunlop, Falken and Sumitomo tyre brands in 48 African countries.
“The use of second-hand tyres, where the buyer has no knowledge of the tyre’s age or repair history – together with the illegal and highly dangerous practice of ‘re-grooving’ tyres to create greater tread depth – are a significant cause for concern within South Africa’s informal tyre sector,” says Riaz Haffejee, SRSA CEO.
“Our custodianship of and partnership with Part Worn Africa seeks to advance our already well-established manufacturing, product and consumer safety initiatives such as our ‘SaferThanSafe’ campaign and our Dunlop Container Programme, which formalizes informal tyre trade in a safe manner in 120 converted containers across South Africa,” he adds.
SRSA’s latest Used Tyre Survey, which collects data by visiting various second hand tyre dealers in South Africa, reveals that:
- In 2017, 58% of tyres sampled were illegal or previously repaired and therefore not fit for use on the road. This stood at 61% for the year to date as at 6 August 2018.
- There are no controls governing the condition of second hand tyres being sold, and some dealers regroove the tyres themselves. This creates the impression that a tyre’s grooves are sufficiently deep, when the tyre is in fact damaged and dangerous.
- Price is the first concern of dealers and consumers, who seldom gain the knowledge required to make good product recommendations or safe purchases.
Part Worn Africa will lend its expertise to national champions and regional actors to heighten awareness about the causes, challenges and consequences of illegal and dangerous tyres. It will also share the solutions required to address the problem of unregulated part-worn and second-hand passenger tyres in South Africa.
Part Worn Africa’s advocacy campaigns and programmes are managed by pan-African government affairs firm, ETHICORE Political Lobbying.
 Page 21 of the report reveals that 3.8% of fatal accidents in which vehicle fault was a factor were caused by smooth tyres, down from the 2016 figure of 6.8%. The same report reveals that 54.5% of fatal accidents in which vehicle fault was a factor were caused by tyres bursting prior to the accident, up from 44.9% in the previous year.