The growth of second hand motor vehicle trade industry in Malawi has assisted a number of people in the country who had a passion to become salesmen.
The growth of the industry has also seen the increase in the number of tyre fitters and sellers as well as garages along the roads of the country.
In Lilongwe, for example, there were a few tyre fitters, but the trend has completely changed.
When travelling from Blantyre to Lilongwe, the first big market that one finds is the tyre market at Biwi Triangle, arguably the largest tyre market in the country.
Some of the tyre fitters interviewed in Lilongwe revealed that the decision by government to allow people to import second hand vehicles into the country has helped them find jobs.
Yohane Feremu Kambere of Nalison Village, Traditional Authority Mlolo said he abandoned his trade of carpentry to become a tyre fitter because there is a lot of money in the motor trade industry.
Kambere said he decided to quit school in the early 1990s because he wanted to concentrate on learning carpentry.
After working for four years as a carpenter in Nsanje, Kambere trekked to Lilongwe where he joined Delta Construction.
“I only worked for a year at Delta Construction after noticing that tyre fitters were making more money than carpenters. One of my friends was a tyre fitter and I saw that he was making a lot of money; hence, my decision to quit carpentry,” said Kambere.
Kambere said he now makes between K10 000 (about $19) and K15 000 (about $44) on a good day because he combines tyre fitting and tyre selling.
“We buy second hand tyres from companies who normally dispose of tyres and this is why we make a lot of money,” said Kambere.
Agreeing with Kambere is another tyre fitter from Chilinde, Buba Kachepa, who said he managed to buy a plot after combining tyre fitting and selling.
“I joined this industry in 1991 and was one of the first tyre fitters in Lilongwe. With time, as the motor trade industry was growing, I managed to buy some second hand tyres for resell and I have never looked back since then,” said Kachepa.
Everyday Kachepa fixes between 10 and 15 tyres and most of the tyres he sells are brought to him by customers who have dealt with him for a while.
Tobias Mwale, a renowned tyre seller at Biwi Market, claims that he also turned into a seller of tyres after first learning tyre fitting.
Mwale said since he became a seller in the early 1990s, traders from Zambia used to frequent the market two years ago to buy the tyres, but they no longer do so because prices of tyres have gone up considerably.
“Zambians used to come and order 20 or 40 tyres a week, but now they no longer do so. I suspect it is because the prices of tyres have gone up and they can no longer afford them,” said Mwale.
He said that selling tyres can change somebody’s life because one tyre costs between K6 000 (about $17) and K7 000 (about $20).
“We have seen a proliferation of second hand vehicles and many people who cannot afford to buy brand new tyres are buying from us. With that trend you can see that our markets are growing and our business is also heading in the right direction,” said Mwale.