Vehicle owners in Abuja are facing challenging times. Their problems are multi-pronged. It is either they are agonising over the rising spate of vandalism or they are complaining about a new trend of vehicles vanishing from the car wash. Most vehicle owners in Abuja can only bemoan the assault on their psyche by vandals and car thieves alike.
Also, there are mounting claims and counter-claims of mechanics not playing straight in the management of vehicles handed to them.
Last weekend, there were eight cases of vehicles vandalised by robbers at different locations.
“On Friday, my 4runner SUV was vandalised at Kubwa as I tried to withdraw money from an ATM. My laptop and other valuables were stolen,” Mr. Chudi Uchegbu told Daily Sun. “It was a harrowing experience, I lost so much in less than 10 minutes.”
On her part, Mrs. Naomi Taiwo, a banker, is yet to recover from what looked like a dream. She told Daily Sun how she lost her official car last Friday at AYA, 30 minutes after she went into a supermarket to buy toiletries.
She said: “I hear people talk about their vehicles being vandalised or stolen, but I never knew that such a thing could happen to me. I was going home and decided to stop by to get one or two toiletries. I came out and could not find my car. I stayed there till 12 midnight searching for the car but couldn’t find it. I don’t know what Abuja is turning to, it is hard to believe.
“I was told at the police station that car theft and vandalism are main crimes that police are tackling in Abuja now.”
Disappearance of vehicles at car wash
A new complaint at the moment among some vehicle owners is the disappearance of their cars at the cash wash. Abdul Okehi, a civil servant, told Daily Sun that he drove his Honda SUV to a car wash at Jabi, handed the keys to one of the attendants and stepped out to have his breakfast at a bar. He returned 40 minutes later and could not find the young man he gave his keys to nor did he see the vehicle.
“My case is at the police at the moment. On Monday last week I drove my Honda SUV to a cash wash, gave the boy that rushed to me the key to the vehicle to enable him clean the inside. I went out to eat. I returned after 40 minutes but my vehicle was nowhere, the boy was nowhere. I asked his colleagues they told me that they had no idea about his whereabouts. After spending some hours I had to arrest all of them. But nothing has changed,” Okehi said.
Encounter with mechanics
Car owners have continued to groan over the treatment they are getting from automobile repair men.
For some, taking their cars for repair has become a nightmare. Either they spend more than what they budgeted for or their cars would miraculously develop more faults. Some motorists, out of frustration, sometimes abandon their vehicles at workshops.
Samuel Bello, who has had his own share of frustration, said, “Mechanics can drive someone crazy. One time, I told my mechanic to help me find out the price of alternator at Apo Mechanic Village. I went back on my own to ascertain the real cost, to my greatest shock the price my mechanic told was double the real cost.
“This mechanic I am talking about started the job under the auspices of a family friend. We didn’t know he had been cheating us for years.”
Bello added, “Some of them would fix one thing in your car and when you negotiate too much with them, they would spoil something else, making you to come and patronise them, blaming the fault on other things, saying they need to be changed too.”
He also narrated how his mechanic took his car to a nightclub while he was in the house waiting for him.
“Luck ran out on him when a friend identified the car and notified him.
“When my friend told me, I called him to verify his destination he lied to me that he was on his way to my house. Unbeknown to him that I was already at the club. He was shocked when he saw me and that deflated the trust I had for him.
“Even when they have finished fixing the problem, they would decide to go for a cruise with their girlfriends to show off.
“They would be done with the car in the evening and start making plans with their friends on how to paint the town red with someone else’s car,” he said.
A businesswoman, Barong Joe, believes that mechanics’ ‘job’ now goes beyond mere repairs, they also aid in car-snatching.
“The seller will connive with the mechanic to convince the buyer to buy at that particular price.
“If he says N3.5 million, the N500,000 would be for the mechanic because the original price is N3 million,” she said.
She noted that cars are stolen easily with the assistance of mechanics.
“He plans with these people that cut key and gets his own.
“And since he is your personal mechanic and neighbours know he comes to carry your car when you are not around, it is very easy for him to steal the car.
“He will even tell the neighbours bye-bye before he leaves to calm the environment down. This problem is mostly common when you leave your car overnight.”
Emmanuel Obi, a civil servant, added that such thefts are perpetrated by mechanics that are very close to you and you “may not fathom any act of insincerity because you trust them.”
A mechanic, who spoke to Daily Sun in confidence, affirmed the allegations, saying, since the workmanship is not sufficient, the only way they can make ends meet is to increase the price of spare parts.
However, some mechanics disagreed with such claims, stressing that car owners contribute to the fault of their cars.
Moshood Balogun, a mechanic at Apo, disclosed that car owners like to buy cheap things, believing that it is the best way to go.
“When you suggest a particular kind of part, they would think you want to deceive them. Some would suggest to purchase themselves and when it goes bad, more money would be expended to get the original one,” he said.
Balogun advised people to present at workshops to monitor the repair of thier cars to avoid stories.
He also claimed that drivers contribute to the system as they influence mechanics to fleece their bosses.
He concluded by saying encouraging the strengthening of trust between car owners and mechanics.
Suggesting further, Onenu John, advised mechanics to set up a strong union to checkmake to punish fraudulent ones in order to protect the name from scandal.