Kabiru Salawu is a technician who specialises in battery repair. He has now graduated to making car batteries through recycling used ones. He said with reliable power supply, inventors can expand their businesses and do better.
Twenty-six years ago, Kabiru Salawu, popularly called KB, graduated after six years apprenticeship as a battery-charge apprentice in Oge area of Ibadan to a full-time battery charger. He relocated to Abuja in 1991 and opened a shop. Due to high demand and the different problems of his customers, he explored the changing trend of batteries – those without life-cycle indicator to the new ones with indicator – which made him to start recycling and reselling batteries.
According to him, “Old batteries do not have an indicator to check their water and power levels, while new ones have an indicator that displays acid-water power level, whether it is due for charging, change of acid liquid or when the battery is dead. I started recycling batteries after I realised that many batteries were dumped and destroyed, but after some trial and error, I realized that batteries can be recycled by replacing the acid with new one, or fixing the replaced terminal or “wire” that connects between the six cells inside the batteries.”
Kabiru said based on the demand for recycled batteries which come with one year guarantee, he saved and raised some capital and bought a motorized industrial-air-compressing machine to seal the batteries he has professionally ripped open, fixed and replaced the technical fault. He then used the compressor to seal it to avoid explosion and have a good finish similar to the imported ones. He said his is not the crooked method others use to bond the battery case. He said the battery is handmade, reliable and the producer is easily accessible for any compliant.
Kabiru said he bought the compressing machine in Lagos, sourced for used batteries in Abuja, gets the raw acid locally and some of the panels, terminals from used batteries to produce his.
He said batteries are categorized according to size/capacity as those of motorcycles, tricycles and generators are mostly referred to light-duty half batteries, those of four cylinder cars like Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla are 45amps, while cars with six cylinder engine capacity uses 62 or 75 amps and above as there electrical system are built on 12 volts system. But heavy-duty vehicles like tipper, trailer and caterpillars have electrical system that works on 24 volts system and that is why they use two batteries to power them.
He said it is not really the case that batteries die during the raining season, noting that even new batteries that have been displayed in the shops fail after six months on the shelf for not being used or been dormant, but work after they have been charged.
On how battery can last, he said, it depends on the materials used, as some last for two to three years and even beyond.
He noted that when a new good battery gets to the market, some dubious importers order for the sub-standard to be mass produced. He also said it was not necessary to charge a battery after purchase, as, the car alternator charges it to full capacity.
He said, “It is unfortunate that the government through the National Directorate of Employment (NDE) among other institutions, has not contacted me to train youths who want to be self-employed and students who know theory and want to learn the practical aspects in higher institutions and technical schools.”
Kabiru said to start a venture like his requires about N10 million: N5 million to buy a compressed sealing machine; some part of the money to buy used car batteries at the cost of N2,500; large quantity of raw acid; printing of label, industrial sealant and sourcing power for production to commence.
He advised car owners against removing their car batteries for others to start their cars as constant removal of batteries and hitting battery terminals reduced the life cycle of batteries. He said the best option while assisting others is by using the battery-starter or “battery-jumper-wire”.
He also cautioned apprentices to always use protective eye glasses to avoid acid splashing onto their faces and to always wash their hands after working on battery or its parts.
The major problem Kabiru Salawu is faced with is lack of electricity to supply power to his heavy duty equipment. He wants to raise money to buy a heavy-duty generator to power his motorized compressing machine to facilitate his work and serve his increasing customers across the country.
He, however urged government to liaise with locally gifted artisans, inventors, producers among others to develop the country as is done across the developed world.