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Moses Obroku: Nigerian Mechanics Can Kill You

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dreamstime_xl_15903754We just love to hate them. They are that group of people we wish we never relate with, but really cannot do without. They are mechanics, and the ones in Nigeria are a special breed; with most of them out to do you in, squeeze as much money as they possibly can from you through purchasing spare parts and having very little regard for your safety or indeed your life. Paying serious attention to mechanics in this part of the world and their antics is critical to your health, safety and overall survival as an automobile owner.

And it doesn’t matter if they appear top notched, sophisticated, located in some highbrow area and rather expensive to patronize; or they are the run-of-the-mill, dirt and grim type located by the road side in some run -down shanty town. Most Nigerian mechanics are incredibly incompetent, and regardless of the state-of-the-art gadgets some of them parade in their shops, your car can still come off worse with an aggravated problem than what took it there in the first place; while leaving a hole in your pocket as well.

That they charge cut-throat prices for spare parts is not the problem. But why can’t they just procure the genuine parts even after collecting so much money? And if the problem is with the importers of automobile parts, why can’t the mechanic association petition the Standard Organization of Nigeria, to insist that such bad marketers be sanctioned?

Nigeria is one of the few countries in the world where you go to purchase something and the seller excessively declares it as ‘original’. My usual reaction is ‘please do you have the fake?’ While they quickly decline that they do not sell fake products, they still go ahead to bring other variations of that item with equally varying prices, leaving you more confused than you were before the encounter. And the price margin between the ‘original’ and not so original is no joke! On the issue of brake pads, their various costs and the number of times you may need to replace them before you get the right ones; we shall discuss that another time.

Mechanics often collude with spare parts sellers to inflate the prices of auto parts. As it is, they determine what the problem is with your vehicle, proffer the solution, tell you what needs to be bought, suggest who to buy it from and generally tell you how much it cost. It sure feels like mechanics have the yam, the knife and even the firewood; leaving the hapless car owner no choice but to cooperate. Even if you change your mechanic, the drama just continues at a different location. Occasionally when you go to the market with them to get the spare parts, the advent of mobile phones in Nigeria has made it easy for them to call ahead and fix the price with the seller whom they will eventually lead you to. When you think of it, it appears mechanics around here have personal vendetta against vehicle owners. It looks like the sleeker and pricier your car is, the greater the level of squeezing you get.
My brother in Abuja once asked his mechanic to get another engine for his former car several years ago. The cost of the engine as stated by the mechanic came to about 120,000 Naira. After it was purchased, complete with receipt as proof for amount paid, he (my brother) felt an urge to go to the auto parts market and verify the cost of that engine. Randomly walking into a shop, he bargained for that type of engine and the seller told him he would sell for 80,000 Naira – and write whatever sum my brother wants on the receipt! (just in case he wanted to make some quick cash) As proof of that kind of arrangement, the seller brought out his receipt book and showed him a similar transaction carried out a few days before. To his shock, he was looking at his name, vehicle and chassis number on the book. Apparently, his mechanic had bought the engine for 80,000 Naira and not 120,000 Naira as stated on the receipt he presented, a truth which was only revealed by sheer providence.
What is perhaps worse than the deviousness and greed of mechanics is their carelessness that could be fatal. Sometimes, they fail to re-attach parts properly, fail to reconnect wires they loosened, advice you to remove the thermostat of your car (as if the manufacture was wrong to have put it there in the first place), they can work with your vehicle tools like wheel jack and spanner and fail to put them back in the car or replace them with someone else’s. And most annoying is the grease they smear all over your car just because they worked on it.

Not too long ago, my perfectly functioning car which self-indicates when the oil should be changed was worked upon by my mechanic. Since it was a working day, I arranged with him to take the car from me while I was at work, so he could do the oil change routine and return the car before the close of business. Sounds like a good plan right? When I got home, I decided to check that he returned my tools in the car as well as clean up the trademark ‘mechanic grease’ from within and without the car. When I was done, it was dark, and rather than be satisfied that the car was now clean and my tools were intact, I became restless. Something didn’t feel right. I opened the hood of the car, everything looked good there. I checked all the lights they were working. I decided to take a flashlight and check the tires, it was then I saw it. The front tire, passenger side was missing two bolts! Two other bolts were loosened and fell off as I touched them, and the last bolt was the only thing holding the tire because all the tires are fitted with one locking wheel nut each that requires a key to open them. That discovery made me taste bile in my mouth.

If God is not with me, and I wasn’t naturally vigilant, it is that kind of negligence from my mechanic that causes tires to fly off fast moving vehicles, causing avoidable accidents. Who knows how many other unsuspecting vehicle owners have been maimed or killed by acts or omissions from their mechanics? When I confronted him later on, my mechanic blamed my loosened tire on his apprentice who failed to screw it back on and expressed his deepest apologies.

Now we know Nigerian mechanics can cause tragedy to us, we must be on guard and take responsibility for our safety. We must now study our vehicle manuals like our lives depend on them and get very familiar with our vehicles, ensuring things are in order. Especially when they just return from the mechanic’s; considering there are no ‘fake or original’ spare human body parts or lives available anywhere to replace the one we have. It would be monumental tragedy if anyone gets maimed or killed due to the greed, incompetence or negligence of some mechanic chap.

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Linda Johnsonbaugh

Aside from being a lawyer, migration management expert, security personnel and fitness buff; there are many other sides to me. I am also a self -proclaimed foodie (and oh yes, to complement that, I can cook!). Of course, writing is my passion and I have a mission to inspire my world, one person at a time. I can be reached on [email protected] Instagram: @mosesobroku

18 Comments

  1. Julz

    April 29, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Its painful when you feel cheated or know you have been cheated, its even worse when the mechanics don’t do a good jobs. Alot of Nigerians generally are greedy sorry to say. And yes I am nigerian

  2. Anon

    April 29, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    The worst of all the parts they buy is a tyre!

    Vulcanizer!!

    That is why some people will just rather pay that extra and go to Honda place, Germaine motors, Globe motors etc. It seems to depend on the age of your car though.

    Mechanics are just as bad as plumbers and electricians…

  3. J

    April 29, 2015 at 1:45 pm

    Honestly till date I can’t say I’v met one dat I completely trust, but of cos, there are still a few good ones.

  4. J

    April 29, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Honestly, I don’t think I’ve met any that I absolutely trust……..but of cos there has to be some few good ones somewhere right?

    • Ready

      April 29, 2015 at 3:40 pm

      No! Even the good ones lie…that or they get bad deals from their sellers, or they think you can manage it. My car is much worse off than it was in December.
      Problem: gearbox. New problems–now my gear light when in drive always blinks once my speed reaches 40; and when I put the car in reverse, the reverse light shows as well as the drive light thanks to Mechanic 1 who kept my car for almost a month.
      Mechanic 2 has ensured that there’s much more noise in my bonnet than ever before. I’ve also bought 2 sets of brake pads because he agreed that the first set are not the right ones. They were original o, just not the right ones.
      Rewire guy, please fix my malfunctioning radio. New problems–AC isn’t as cold; entire radio/fog light switch section was mis-assembled and had to be GLUED!!!, and my radio still doesn’t work. Shortly after that, my fan repeatedly stopped, thus causing overheating. Called Rewire 2 who said it was likely my plugs that were bad…it wasn’t the plugs. Went back to rewire 1 who bought new fans.
      Now the problem is my key acts like a shy stranger that’s forming for my ignition.
      Yay me.

  5. nene

    April 29, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    ‘please do you have the fake?’ best question to start with lmao

  6. Nymous

    April 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    You need to try Motomi by 01 Sharwama! His charges are the most reasonable I have seen and he is also very professional!

    • Naomi

      April 29, 2015 at 3:31 pm

      Hi Nymous, please which 01 sharwama? 01 sharwama in maryland, magodo or lekki?

    • Doug

      May 7, 2015 at 5:18 pm

      Yup! That’s where I take my car and my wife’s car to. The first time I went there I was shocked at how reasonable his rates were and how courteous and professional he was. And It’s so refreshing when you don’t have to struggle to communicate with your mechanic, and keep hearing them mispronounce parts …. “Spindu kalipa”, “chump”, “thyroid”

    • Anon

      August 10, 2015 at 8:47 pm

      Pls where is Muotomi located, or can we have his contact information? Thanks!

  7. Amaka

    April 29, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    You are absolutely right moses..

  8. Nefertiti

    April 29, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Kudos….I had a problem with my Toyota Rav4 and I started hearing things like; Gearbox, brain box, and to my greatest surprise it was only a wiring and electrical fault. But I already changed the gearbox n brain box. I almost died, it was God that redeemed my car n I.

  9. oj

    April 29, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    a mechanic allowed my mother’s car to be used for ‘kabu kabu’ and there was a serious accident. mum’s car was finished. all he did was apologize and later said someone was offering to buy the car for peanuts (that was their plan). mum was so pissed with my dad for the way he handled matters (my dad is a peacemaker). if it were her, the guy would be in the police cell.

  10. The writer's wife

    April 29, 2015 at 4:14 pm

    Omg omg omg …… Did that? (Tempted to call the mechanic’s name) !!!!! And you didn’t tell me!!! Lolllll. You can’t imagine my shock! So many what ifs going on in my head!!!!

  11. Gee..

    April 29, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    They are a lot fake and unproffessional ones out there especially in Abuja…. Every one of them claim they are professionals in their fields, Nothwithstanding we still got a few good ones out there….. Its just safe to be more vigilant whenever our cars get in the hands of Mechanics…

  12. Skepo

    April 29, 2015 at 8:38 pm

    They are very terrible and it’s because there isn’t a serious body/agency to which they are accountable. I recently took my Honda City to a highly spoken about mechanic. I went to get my full light fixed but he locked my steering wheel instead claiming that he didn’t know it was a 2011 model and that it was an electrical system. I was so upset and told a police officer friend who calmed me down and asked me not to take it that seriously.

  13. Mee

    April 29, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    My dear first car! I was advised that as a woman, i should not visit a mechanic alone also because i was a learner and i also had a bold sign on my car to prove this- I should have listened! Those guys had me for breakfast!!!

    From the first mechanic i visited till the very last one that finally wrecked the car before i sold it, it was one calamity after another. Infact, a friend referred her mechanic to me after feeling sorry for all my car miseries, she told me how God fearing her mechanic was so i decided to trust him with my new ride, he never got the issues right! I would always go back to fix the same or another issue he manufactured while fixing the car. I paid him so much that i couldn’t give him cash, i would wire it to him. Every month he had a piece of my salary.

    I sold the car after the last mechanic removed the battery while the key was still in the ignition which ultimately messed up the brainbox and i used 70k to fix ( a problem created by the mechanic) and sold immediately after. Now i have a new car and common sense, i NEVER visit mechanics without a guy in tow, i ask loads of questions and always get a second opinion. I am now more knowledgeable in cars (i bought my battery and am going to buy tyres myself..yipee! – a former mechanic gave me a bad tyre claiming it was tokunbo and charged me the price of brand new…so you understand why i am replacing it myself, hun?!).

    If i had my way, i would never use road side mechanics (i would go to the Lanre Shittu’s of this world), they are a weist, they lack conscience and women especially are their victims. Thank you Moses for this article!

  14. oyinlola

    April 30, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    I had better not visit a mechanic’s workshop alone when I begin to drive too…but that part about your brother seeing his name on the copy of the receipt was hilarious. Something similar happened to my boss recently, unrelated to mechanics though. She got a rug for 80,000 in a shop and someone else got the exact same at 50,000 or even lesser than that. Boss decided to investigate, called shop owner and found out she a fast one was played on her by madam’s sales boy. We all want to make money but 30,000 extra from one person?!

    Between, how much is considered too much to make off a sale?

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