RECALLING THE KING OF NIGERIAN ROADS

As I boarded the vehicle to hit the airport, after a heated holiday in Nigeria (I mean this literally), I somehow managed to notice the brand of car I was about to ride. But when we hit the Third Mainland Bridge I became conscious again of all the cars zooming past our crawling automobile. I was a bit taken aback to see that eight out of the first ten cars I counted were of the same brand as the one I was in. I kept counting to prove me wrong on which car maker dominated the Nigerian market. I only rested my case when I had probably counted like a hundred of them.

Toyota clearly is the brand that rules the Nigerian car market, and if my zooming research is anything to go by, I would easily conclude that 80% of the cars on Nigerian roads are of the Toyota brand. Do I have any beef with that? Certainly not! Toyotas are cheap, easily maintained, and Nigerians love their Toyota models, especially their Prados, Landcruisers, Lexus, 4Runners, Avensis, Highlanders, Rav4s, Camrys, Corollas, Yaris, Avalons…should I continue? These cars are the dominating models featured on the auto-fashion shows on our roads. If it were possible, there would be Toyota coup in the country.

Toyota prides itself in stating that its guiding principle is “contributing to the development of a prosperous society through the manufacture of automobiles”. Obviously we may not question that at this juncture until certain questions on key indicators are asked. My main concern is with the recent developments with the car makers based in Japan on the recall of their vehicles in the US, Europe, and China. While there is probably a bigger market in these locations than in Africa, especially with the environmentally friendly Prius model, I am hoping that there will be an immediate recall to all affected vehicles in Africa, especially Nigeria.

It is easier to recall and fix Toyota models in the US and Europe, where there is an abundance of dealerships handling repairs. But in Nigeria, which I can speak for authoritatively, I can only think of two dealerships which I have seen in Lagos. Besides, the roads are not exactly friendly to these erring brake pads and the potential for fatality is higher compared to our American and European friends. Toyota has stated that about 80,000 vehicles in Africa are affected and you can imagine how many of these are roaming the Nigerian roads.

As I write this, some Toyota riders in Nigeria may be ignorant of the global recall going on, but I hope someone will sound this very clear to them to make sure they find out about the status of their vehicles. A few years ago we noticed that the Prado model was having some brake failure frequently and unfortunately I lost a close family in a ghastly accident involving a Prado jeep. I guess that’s where my worry stems from. So the authorities in Nigeria should promptly seek Toyota’s attention to necessary action regarding their vehicles in Nigeria, and get a firm commitment on what they intend to do. On its part Toyota should honour their principle by also showing that they care about smaller markets as much as they do about their home runs. It may be difficult to implement the recall in a place like Nigeria, but not impossible. Let’s watch and see what happens.

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