There is great need of educating consumers generally on the adverse consequences of purchasing and utilising substandard auto products with a view to minimising road crashes that result in human fatalities and financial losses.
The Director General National Automotive Design and Development Council (NADDC), Aminu Jalal gave the advice as a way forward in his presentation, ‘Counterfeit Automotive Components: How to Mitigate their Prevalence and Effects by Various Techniques and Technologies’ at a stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos, recently.
According to Jalal, “There is need for the general public and government to improve their knowledge of what constitutes fake products and parts with a view to ensuring that only those that conform to the required standard are allowed into the country. If the fake goods or parts are produced in the country, they should be detected, confiscated and destroyed.
“Standards are measurable parameters which define various aspects of materials and performance necessary to achieve a desired goal. Vehicles are tested to ensure they meet the compulsory vehicle standards. These standards aim at improving active and passive car safety, environmental protection as well as the quality of products and production processes. Therefore, automotive systems and their components are tested and type approved according to these compulsory standards.”
He said the Council in collaboration with Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) adopted and adapted more than 110 automotive safety standards. For the Council to realize its twin statutory responsibility of ensuring the incorporation of local content in locally assembled vehicles and compliance of automotive products with environmental and technical safety regulations, Council is collaborating with Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and has almost completed establishing automotive test laboratories to carry out various tests on auto components.
The Test Centres, he said are designed to have capabilities to meet present as well as future automotive testing needs. The envisaged take-off test centres will have various laboratories and services as follows: Automotive Component Testing Laboratory; Emission Testing Laboratory; Vehicle Evaluation Laboratory; and Automotive Material Laboratory.
He said the labs would be commissioned by the end of this year, adding that the MANCAP and SONCAP programmes of SON will also check the influx of fake and substandard parts by ensuring that all auto components being legitimately imported into the country conform to international quality standards. However, the problem that might still be encountered may be that of smuggling into the country of fake and substandard auto parts, particularly tyres. Therefore, Nigeria Custom Service and Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) who are agencies responsible for ensuring conformity with specifications of imported goods and enforcing standards respectively must rise up to the challenges of fake and substandard goods in general and auto parts in particular.
Special security scratch labels may be provided on spare parts / their packaging for customers use the revealed code at purchase time to determine whether or not an auto component is genuine. This technique is used extensively by NAFDAC to guide the general public on the purchase of genuine drugs and may be extended to automotive components. This technique is often referred to as “Mobile Product Authentication.”
He said standards make for achievement of given targets and goals. Therefore, for efficient, effective and sustainable maintenance in the Auto Industry, standards must be respected. All spare parts and other materials must conform to standards. The auto mechanics have moral obligation to ensure that only genuine spare parts and materials are used. Because of the strict standards set by governments in developed countries, vehicle manufacturers have improved on the quality standard of their products.
When genuine products are used in the repairs and maintenance of vehicles, the result is a reliable vehicle which is perceived to be dependable, maintainable and safe to use. The benefits of such attributes add value to the company engaged in producing such products by way of goodwill.
Customers, he said have a way of determining what they want and whether or not what they purchase is fit for purpose. “Once majority of customers acknowledge that a product is ‘fit for purpose’, then the product has passed the litmus test of reliability. If counterfeit products become commonplace without abatement, then the authorities in charge of making standards and their enforcement have failed in discharging their responsibilities according to mandate and intellectual properties are doomed.”