Saturday, 12 February 2011

In search of expert millennium vehicle mechanics

Joachim Ezeji

Recent and on-going personal experiences worries me to a great extent. These experiences has to do with the sheer dearth of automobile artisans or mechanics with competitive expertise in critical areas of repairs, services and maintenance of the plethora of millennium vehicles in our today’s society. The danger today is that our society, a society that fraudulently leap frogs its basic development steps is today held hostage by charlatans who claim questionable expertise in automobile repairs and services.

Some friends are of the view that most mechanics in our milieu are half baked. These mechanics never really learnt the skill properly, and in the bizarre haste to make money dabbles into questionable vehicle repairs that often ends up destroying many exotic vehicles as well as permanently ending the lifespan of such vehicles on the roads. Ironically, they often get away with such impunities because our people have become so accustomed to bad governance, porous judiciary and a frustrating police force. The result being a free market for these scoundrels.

In 2007, I had bought my Montero Mitsubisu V6 Jeep all the way from Downtown San Jose in the state of California, USA. The vehicle was subsequently shipped to Nigeria. Since its arrival, the vehicle has served me meritoriously. But for the last three months the vehicle has become a torn in the flesh for me.

From one fault to the other, the operational efficiency and pleasure inherent in the vehicle had dwindled.The vehicle now degrades as it gradually becomes more problematic with every visit to any suggested automobile artisan/mechanic in Owerri. Sadly, most automobile mechanics make strong but deceitful expertise on repairing such vehicles. I am yet to meet any one so far who declines expertise.

The problem with my car is that it overheats. The engines easily gets overheated, and this often makes my heart to beat very fast while driving in town. The long traffic jams on Owerri urban roads often exacerbates this problem. I have since stopped putting on or using the air conditioner in the vehicle in order to ameliorate the problem but all to no avail. I have also regularly to the best of my ability to follow the instructions on the manual, yet the problem persists. I no longer dare drive the car outside town least the worst happens.

At the beginning, I had trusted the expertise of my pioneer mechanic –Oga Emma, an Isiekenesi Ideator born mechanic who stays along Port Harcourt Road. A regular hand for me over the years, but the man seems to be an expert in guess work or what you may call trial and error. He hardly ever gets anything right at first instance. There must be return visits, and each visit must cost money. When I complained about low operational efficiency, he suggested that I change the ‘’camber’’ and the ‘’bushing’’. A little later, he suggested that I also replace my fuel pump. Both repairs cost me a fortune. When the overheating became overbearing he suggested that I change the water pump.

I was later advised by friends to try another automobile mechanic, which I did not hesitate to do. This time I fell into the hands of one Chukwuma who works at the Nekede mechanic village. My experience with Chukwuma was both a nightmare and a disaster. At the initial stage, he had assured me that after working on my vehicle that all will be ok. But that turned out a ruse. Chukwuma changed the ‘’top cylinder gasket’’ and in the process spoiled the ‘’pully’’ that holds the ‘’V-belt’’. When he finished, my car kick became another problem as the car hardly starts anymore. My car battery also died in his hands. Most of the repair spare parts that I bought on my own based on his instructions were rejected by him on delivery. He only accepted materials he bought himself and all of them were purchased at spurious and exorbitant prices.

This also includes the fact that he kept my car for 16 days in his workshop. He had earlier deceived me by lying that he will tidy up the car within 3 working days, but this stretched into 16 days. A period that not only asphyxiated my entire schedules but exposed me to oodles of risks while going to the mechanic village on daily settings. At the end of the 16 days period, the overheating was still not gone, but very much in the vehicle. Every effort to get back at Chukwuma to answer follow –up questions on what he had wrought on my vehicle has been futile. He had kept scheduling and re-scheduling appointments with me on when to come and re-attend to the vehicle without keeping to his words. As I am writing this now, I am still waiting for him. There is no doubt that he is testing my strength, and if I should exert it now, people may not really understand the extent of frustration he had subjected me to.

Still seeking for a solution, I visited my god father in marriage who has a similar car to mine. He did not waste time to invite his mechanic – Julius, an Mbaise born mechanic at the Orji mechanic village. I am presently tied with Julius. Julius had on initial inspection, insisted that my radiator was totally bad. The first thing he charged me to do was to get a new radiator. I insisted we wash the one in the car and see if there would be any improvement but he would not budge. When he eventually agreed to try washing the radiator, he suggested that we go to one Lasisi, a Yoruba man that has lived in Owerri for the past 30 years, who has neither known nor practiced any other job, other than washing radiators.

But even the washed radiator could not deliver the service as the overheating persisted. At this point, I had little option than to travel to Lagos to purchase another radiator. But despite all these efforts and time, the same old problem of engine overheating persists. The new radiator have not solved the problem. Julius later suggested that I return the new radiator as it may be malfunctioning. I rejected his suggestion, telling him I wont take that from him. He has now decided to dig deeper into the engine and re-appraise the top cylinder and the gasket that was put together by Chukwuma, the Ehime Mbano born mechanic at Nekede mechanic village.

I have been advised to take the vehicle to authorised dealers in Port Harcourt or to Ala-ojii in Aba. My friend, Mark who resides in Port Harcourt insists I do so as quickly as I could. But who do I take the vehicle to in Port Harcourt? I therefore made efforts to search for local authorised service dealers on the internet; the nearest I could find is CFAO motors based in Trans-Amadi industrial layout, Port Harcourt. Sadly their telephone number is comatose. But my predicament is that the vehicle currently overheats and may not have the strength to go that long distance.

Do you live in Owerri, Nigeria? Do you have a millennium vehicle? What have your experience been on its serviceability and maintenance? I am sure your experience wont be anything edifying, and this is very painful. For me, I am currently stuck, with my vehicle grounded. I have the money to put my vehicle aright, but have no clue on who can solve the problem at first instance. Where do I find a competent and capable mechanic who can solve my car’s problems without exacerbating my woes. Please show or link me to one if you know. My numbers are 08166347023 or 08183405204.

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