In Nigeria, new money in used tires

Nigeria is heavily dependent on money from its oil exports. But businesswoman Ifedolapo Runsewe has identified another local money-making resource: used car tires.

Last year, Runsewe established the Freetown Waste Management Recycle plant in Ibadan, a town in southwestern Nigeria. Workers turn old tires into material used for cobblestones, soils and other products in high demand in the country.

“To create something new out of something that would otherwise be somewhere, because the waste was part of the motivation“Runsewe told Reuters.

Waste disposal systems are poor in Nigeria. In villages, towns and cities, large amounts of waste are commonplace. People often burn garbage at night because there are no safer methods of disposal. Tires are often found among the garbage.

The Freetown plant relies on people who collect old tires in areas where there is waste. They are paid from 70 to 100 naira, or 17 to 24 cents, for each tire.

Men work on the used car tire recycling line at the Freetown Waste Management Recycling Plant in Ibadan, Nigeria, September 17, 2021. REUTERS / Temilade Adelaja

Some tires are also supplied directly by auto repairers like Akeem Rasaq. He told Reuters he was happy to have found a place where he could make money from old tires.

Freetown started operations with just four employees. The factory now has 128 workers. So far, more than 100,000 tires have been recycled in all, from speed bumps the flexible coating of play areas.

Houssam Azem is the founder of the Lagos Jet Ski Riders Club. He bought cobblestones in Freetown for a children’s playground. “It is important to support anyone who recycles in our country,” he said.

Azem added: “By taking tires… and turning them into play objects for the kids, I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”

I am Jonathan Evans.

Fikayo Owoeye and Seun Sanni reported this story to the Reuters news service. Jonathan Evans adapted this story for Learn English. Bryan Lynn was the editor.

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Words in this story

paving stonenm a brick slightly larger than the building brick used in the construction of the pavement surface

motivationnm a motivating force, stimulus or influence; drive

retardernm a low, raised ridge across a road or parking lot that causes people to drive slower

win-win – adj. provide a good result for everyone involved

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