‘In Nigeria, a tyre never quite dies’: reinventing the wheel in Lagos

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The activity of a vulcaniser is not dissimilar that of a surgeon, says nan Nigerian photographer Andrew Esiebo. Armed pinch precision tools, vulcanisers crossed Nigeria widen nan lives of tyres different destined for nan scrap heap.

“Vulcanisers are for illustration doctors for tyres because nan measurement they activity is for illustration surgery,” says Esiebo, who has chronicled really utilized tyres are being repurposed successful Lagos successful a photography bid exhibited arsenic portion of nan British Academy-funded Pneuma-City project.

Just manus and tyre are seen against a backdrop of cars arsenic a vulcaniser successful nan Mushin neighbourhood of Lagos uses a cardinal valve to region an soul tyre conduit brought for repair.
A Muchin vulcaniser successful colourful and alternatively smart garment and headdress evaluates nan value of a utilized tyre brought to him for repair.
A vulcaniser squatting inflates nan tyre of a conveyance by a roadside
  • Vulcanisers spot their domiciled arsenic keeping nan metropolis moving

“In Nigeria, a tyre ne'er rather dies. It’s made from non-degradable material. However, moreover erstwhile nan tyre is retired of nan car, there’s still a usage for it.”

Esiebo’s activity shows repurposed tyres scattered crossed nan city, wherever they are utilized arsenic flower pots, shot goalposts, punch bags, makeshift tables, swings successful a parkland and moreover seating successful trendy bars. A institution successful Nigeria, he says, is recycling discarded tyres to go level tiles for a playground.

Heaps of tyres astatine a sorting tract successful nan Mile 12 area of Lagos
  • Heaps of tyres astatine a sorting tract successful nan Mile 12 area of Lagos

Esiebo’s photos are shown successful nan office of nan vulcanisers’ relation successful nan Lagos neighbourhood of Mushin. The association’s motto is “no tyre, nary movement”.

The photos are simultaneously being exhibited successful 7 vulcaniser workshops crossed nan city, curated by nan Lisbon-based Inês Vallee.

“It was a measurement of pushing photography beyond nan accepted space,” Esiebo says.

A man successful a wheelchair passes nan photos connected a wall.
  • One of Andrew Esiebo’s outdoor exhibitions

A freelance photographer based successful Lagos, Esiebo documents nan accelerated improvement of municipality Nigeria. He started shooting nan task successful 2019 and continued until 2023.

Vulcanisers play “an basal role” successful prolonging a tyre’s life successful a state pinch a precocious costs of living, wherever “changing a tyre is not ever easy”, Esiebo says. Lagos is simply a metropolis of 20 cardinal people, pinch astir 2m cars connected its roads.

In nan Abesan area of Lagos is an aerial position of a organization gym wherever discarded tires are utilized arsenic fences.
  • At a organization gym successful nan Abesan area of Lagos, discarded tyres are utilized arsenic fences

Scrap tyres are a world problem, pinch immoderate occidental countries dumping them successful processing nations specified arsenic India successful a arena dubbed arsenic “waste colonialism”.

Dr David Garbin, from nan University of Kent, is intrigued by nan imported aged European tyres (known arsenic tokunbo) getting a 2nd life successful Lagos. Many get discarded and rescued by artists, he says, whose sculptures sometimes are acquired by galleries successful Europe.

A female seen done a tyre carries a load connected her head, pinch a inheritance of flyovers
Care tyres being utilized by nan broadside of nan slope of a stream aliases canal pinch boats going past
Car tyres being utilized arsenic debased seats astatine an upmarket barroom pinch a excavation called Island Breeze
Car tyres being utilized arsenic swings
  • Tyres are utilized arsenic swings and moreover seats successful Lagos, a metropolis of 20 cardinal people

Echoing Esiebo, Garbin says vulcanisers are doctors because “they cure and fix” nan tyres, but besides because they diagnose tyre conditions and counsel drivers erstwhile to switch them.

“Many vulcanisers we said to shared their acquisition of getting earnestly injured by exploding tyres,” he adds.

A Mushin vulcaniser uses a ‘mount/demount’ robust instrumentality to region a faulty tyre for repair.
  • A Mushin vulcaniser uses an robust ‘mount-demount’ instrumentality to region a faulty tyre for repair

Vulcanisers’ devices laid retired artistically connected a chequerboard
  • A show of vulcanisers’ tools

“The activity is challenging, pinch debased and unpredictable income. Vulcanisers strengthen agelong hours connected engaged roadsides, exposed to contamination and dense traffic, without general protections specified arsenic pensions aliases wellness insurance. Despite nan precarious quality of their work, they see themselves basal to keeping nan metropolis moving.

“They ‘patch’ nan city, enabling regular mobility, particularly for affordable nationalist carrier for illustration nan iconic danfos (yellow buses) and okadas (motorcycle taxis).”

A tyre’s worldly resilience, Garbin says, “is some a blessing and curse, allowing non-biodegradable tyres to cling to nan municipality fabric, perchance becoming breeding grounds for malarial mosquitoes aliases blocking waterways and drains.”

Tyres are utilized arsenic stepping stones successful a muddy street.
  • Tyres are utilized arsenic stepping stones successful a muddy street

Esiebo’s favourite photograph of nan bid is 1 showing “a feline having a nap connected a rotation of tyres”. “That shows nan ingenuity of it,” he says.

“We upcycle almost everything successful Nigeria,” he adds. “Organically, we person a civilization of upcycling; it’s our measurement of life. It’s conscionable that we don’t put nan connection to it.”

A man lies connected a statement of half tyres successful beforehand of a athletics field
  • Esiebo’s favourite photograph of nan series

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Source theguardian
theguardian