Thursday July 31 2014

‘I change cars every year’


By Emmy Omongin

How I got my first car
A-level education was free and those who qualified for university all went on government sponsorship. The government gave us pocket money and allowance. I saved the pocket money and bought my first car, a Volkwagen Beetle.

Second car and others
My second car was a Renault which I used as a cab. I vividly remember buying it at Shs4, 700. I made money from the Renault while I was at campus. In 1972, I sold both cars and went to the US to do a Masters in Divinity. While in Europe, I drove three cars, Morris Minor, Subaru and Renault. I graduated in 1975 and went to Kenya where I drove over five different cars that I cannot really recall.

I then went back to Europe where I spent eight years and drove more than eight cars. While there, I learnt one thing, brand new cars usually come out in August of every year.

About new cars
I used to buy brand new cars in August every year. I would drive the car till June of the following year and then sell it. By the time I sold it, it was still considered brand new. I would only incur a few costs like changing oil before selling it. After selling, I would top up a few hundred dollars and buy a brand new car.

As opposed to Europe, here in Uganda, we get used cars from Japan. So what I do is buy the car, drive it for one year or less, buy a new number plate and sell it.People here buy number plates they do not mind about the condition of the car. While selling my car, all I do is change tyres and brakes.

Of Ugandan drivers
I think Ugandan drivers are generally good knowing what they have gone through to become drivers. In most cases, they have used a boda boda before and they know how notorious boda boda riders are.

So when they get cars, they know how to handle bodas that maneuver from any side of the road. I find young lady drivers very aggressive and dangerous. They don’t yield, they don’t give way, that is just them.
Also, because I think we are very poor time managers, Ugandan drivers start their journey late. And they want to make up for the time lost. They resort to speedy and reckless driving. Personally when I am driving, I drive four cars when I am on the road.
I drive the car which is on my left, right, front and behind. I make sure I have what is called a cushion. I leave space for braking. Sometimes when I realise someone is driving too close to me, I brake suddenly so that they can keep off.

Type of car
I prefer Japanese. They are easy to repair, they are serviceable and almost any mechanic can repair them. But I do not go to mechanics because my car does not break down that is the reason I buy a newer car every year.
I have also driven some European cars like BMW, Renault, I think that is all. European cars are not popular here, it is manly Japanese cars that we import. I prefer my car in silver to other colours because it does not absorb heat. The other colours like black, red or blue do heat up a lot when it is a sunny day.

How I sell and buy my cars
I have an agent called Kamunye. They are good boys. They usually bring the car to my home and we negotiate. They take the old one and they bring the new one. I don’t import or buy from the internet. I usually do not top up much. I do add roughly Shs3m depending on the condition and model of the car.

Fuel consumption
When you keep the tank empty, it usually heats on the outside and builds steam inside the tank which turns into water. So you risk getting water inside your tank. That is why I can never have an empty tank.
Every time I fill up, I check mileage. There are some fuel stations that cheat; they do not give you the exact litres of fuel. Whenever I refill, I spend roughly Shs193,000. That can take me for weeks depending on where I go and what I do.

On traffic police and roads
I like our traffic police for one thing- they have not lost our culture and respect for elders. They respect the elders a lot. When they find you in the wrong, they treat you with a lot of respect. They talk to you like a son or daughter talks to a father. So I want to thank Kale Kayihura for that.
About our roads, I don’t think we have good engineers working on our roads, there is nothing set aside for pedestrians and boda bodas. They make roads with channels on the sides and yet they know we have drunken drivers.
The boda boda riders are also causing a lot of congestion in the city. You find the boda boda man riding on your left and right sometimes denting your car. Something needs to be done about these boda bodas.
Lastly, I don’t know whether Kampala Capital City Authority has planned for the cars that are yet to be imported.
People are buying cars everyday but the roads are the same, how will they regulate traffic? I think there will be a lot of congestion in the city with time.