Imagine setting out on the road with your car, trying to meet up with an important appointment and then suddenly…screech… the absurd noise of your tyre as it rubs against the rim of the car…
Suddenly you have a flat tire. At that point, you are worried, pissed and frustrated, and the thing that comes to mind is; getting a vulcaniser to save the day.
Vulcanizers are usually found by the roadside repairing, maintaining or servicing car tires. Their operation ranges from inflating flattened tires to checking tire pressure, sealing up punctured tires, replacing tire tubes, replacing tires with spares, selling used tires and other miscellaneous tire repair works.
Vulcanizing jobs is one of the most important services motorists depend on, supporting the course to a smooth ride as we go about meeting our daily deliverables. Like superheroes, they are there to rescue us from the uncertainties and impromptu disappointments car owners and drivers encounter on the road.
However, as inflation hits deeper touching down on the pocket of an average Nigerian, our “superheroes” are also are greatly affected as the situation confines them to live within an unfavourable zone.
In a conversation with Taoreed Alabi, a vulcaniser around Ajegunle, Lagos State, he told Nairametrics how difficult it has become adjusting to the realities of increasing costs. Compared to the previous year, he said that food items and other basic household necessities have continued to increase at a high speed, making it almost impossible to meet up the daily expenses.
The father of three said, “The rate at which the price of goods jumps these days is alarming, making it is really difficult for people like us to make ends meet especially considering that we operate using a general price that comes from the top.”
At the state level, vulcanizers operate under the Lagos State Vulcanizer Association, LSVA and the Association of Vulcanisers in Nigeria, AVN, at the national level. This means that their operation is solely based on a top-down approach resulting in an agreed-upon price for all.
Inflating a tyre, however, depends on the kind of vehicle that is involved. For a two-wheel or three-wheel vehicle, the price consideration is N300 while N500 is considered for four-wheel vehicles and a higher amount is charged for big-wheel vehicles like trailers. “This means that our income depends on how many tyres we are able to work on in a day,” he said.
The current value shows the association has increased the amount in recent times by over a 100%. Despite this, vulcanizers say the continuous increase in prices every day is making it difficult to meet up. Most of them are already considering a change in profession, even as many have already dropped the profession for any other that would put more money in their pockets at the end of the day.
How the situation is forcing the artisans out of business
Alabi explained how the situation has become very unbearable, forcing him to withdraw his children from a private school to a public school because of the need to prioritise basic things like food. “Afterall without food, there can be no survival or thought about education,” he said.
A lot of his colleagues have had to quit vulcanizing business just so they could fend for themselves and their families by other means. Dapo Babalola is one of those who has had to abandon the line of business despite having so many years of experience in that line.
He said, “Yes, I was born a Vulcanizer – my father is one. But then, I was forced to quit when things became really hard and expenses could no longer match the income. At least with my current job, I get to make a certain commission on every sale I make,” he said referring to his lotto agent job.
Aliyu Adeyemi, a vulcaniser in the Apapa area told Nairametrics that he may be quitting vulcanising to work as a bus driver to earn more income.
“Last week, my friend who is a bus driver had to travel to Ijebu-Ode for a ceremony and he asked me to help him with his transportation business for the two days he was gone. For each of the days, I made no less than N7000 for myself after delivering to the bus owner his own cut. So tell me if I’m supposed to continue as a vulcaniser earning N2000 in a day,” Adeyemi said.
Another vulcaniser, who identifies simply as “Manpower” and operates around Cele bus stop in Okota said that the profession which has never been lucrative, is now not good enough to depend on for daily income.
“For a whole day, you may end up making just around N1500 at the most. But how do you manage to savage when you end up using all of it for feeding yourself and family because food prices have skyrocketed in the last few years,” he said.
He said that at this point, he has to look for another means of income because the present is no longer catering for him and his small family.
What does inflation data say?
- According to the recently released Consumer Price Index report, released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), Nigeria’s inflation rose to its highest level in 11 months, rising from 16.82% recorded in April 2022 to 17.71%.
- The figure was largely influenced by the Russia-Ukraine crisis, which has caused a significant hike in energy prices and by consequence, a spike in the price of food and services.
- In increasing cost has resulted in a manner of work mobility for many Nigerians who have to have to prioritise survival and even some involving themselves in multiple jobs.