BEING AN OSTRICH HAS ITS PERILS

Nissan Motors recently eventually joined a number of auto manufacturers (like Toyota and Honda) who have decided to stop using the Takata airbag inflators. These airbags have been the source of numerous recalls for some years, with this safety device being capable of being injurious due to its composition, and indeed being the cause of avoidable deaths and injuries .

Have a look at Nissan joins automakers dropping Takata air bag inflators for the full story.

Volkswagen has been having problems over deliberate manipulation of emission tests to make millions of its diesel cars appear far “cleaner” than they truly are in real life operation. There have been recalls in select markets. The brouhaha is massive enough to bring down the giant vehicle manufacturer if the situation is not carefully managed, with Toyota having (recently )overtaken Volkswagen as the biggest vehicle manufacturer as result of the trust issues engendered by the Volkswagen Conglomerate underhand dealing .

Have a look at The Diesel Dupe if you are not in touch with developments.

How do these developments affect Nigeria? Nigerians are car freaks. Lots of brand new and Tokunboh (used) vehicles are purchased in droves by Nigerians. On hearing of the Volkswagen EmissionsGate Scandal and this Takata airbag inflator brouhaha (been on for like seven years), I wondered if our regulatory authorities are keeping abreast and are doing everything cogent to ensure the safety of innocent Nigerians who knowingly / unknowingly import vehicles penciled for recall. I can bet my bottom Naira that some vehicle importers would be looking to cash in on the Volks issue by bringing in compromised vehicles.

More significantly, how would an average consumer buying a specific vehicle know if it is safe, and is not one of those having issues with recalls? Do agencies like the Consumer Protection Council (CPC), Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) do enough regarding standards enforcement and the assurance of safety for imported products? Can we be sure that officials are not being compromised to look the other way when laws of the land are being flouted?

Is there enough sensitisation on things like these?

News like…

Probe Volkswagen over emission scandal, SERAP tells Buhari

CPC Issues 7-Day Ultimatum for Emission Report from Volkswagen Nigeria

… do show that the relevant organs of government are not totally clueless, but probably need to do more. It is NOT enough to issue ultimatums without following through aggressively.

At the consumer level, how would I be sure (althought I am sure) that brand new Toyota 2017 Sequoia that the neighbours are salivating over doesn’t have a defective Takata airbag inflator, or is afflicted with the dreaded Toyota Sudden Unintended Acceleration (SUA) issue? . Or that, that curvaceous Volkswagen Passat is not one of those that should not be plying our roads due to excessive noxious Nitrogen Oxide emissions? Can we be sure that all those no name smartphones imported into the country meet radiation (Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) level, and other stadards?

Heaven helps those who help themselves. While it is hoped that things would be done differently in this era of “change”, consumers would do well to keep their ears to the ground for ground braking news on products they (intend to) patronize. Before purchasing a product that could have health implications, seek knowledge and be informed.

Google and Bing and DuckDuckGo, etc, are our friends, and accessing ANY information known to humanity is literally in our palms, at our fingertips.

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