24 January 2013

Uganda: Namilyango Takes Pride in 33-Year-Old Tata

Namilyango College, one of the oldest schools, also has old vehicles it holds dear.

On a visit to the school this week, Joseph Kiwanuka, the college's driver told Immaculate Wanyenze about the 33-year-old Tata truck. He also told her that the beloved old bus, Concorde, retired from service in 2009.

How did the college acquire this lorry?

We acquired this lorry though the government of Uganda. During Milton Obote's regime in 1981, all government institutions, including schools, were entitled to vehicles and that is how Namilyango got its first vehicles: the bus and truck. It is because of government ownership that the truck today has its number plate as UG 0107E. It was previously UE 0130.

How old is the truck and how much did it cost then?

The truck is 33 years old and it cost about Shs 270,000, which was a lot of money in the past. Now, one can get this truck between Shs 70m and Shs 80m.

Do you think the institution has plans to get a better vehicle?

I do not think so because this one is still strong, and besides it is government property. The school can choose to buy a new one but cannot sell this particular one. The Tata is still efficient.

How good is the truck?

As one of the oldest drivers of the school (30 years), this is one vehicle I enjoy driving because it is comfortable, its fuel consumption is fine. Even at its old age, I can drive as far as Tororo or Kisoro. For as long as the gear box and engine are strong, nothing can stop it. Its body is also strong because it is all made of metal and does not easily get scratched.

Any fond memories of the Tata?

I remember in the late 80s up to as early as 1996, I used to drive students in it for study tours and socials at Wanyange Girls School and Mt St.Mary's College Namagunga. For the old boys then, this truck was not an issue; after all it was the style then.

Have the boys nicknamed it yet?

Not yet because a few of the current boys have ridden in it. Today, it is reserved for work like transporting firewood, food and beddings in case the college has been used as a marking centre.

How comfortable is it? [To Kiwanuka, everything about the Tata lorry is good but since I got a chance to ride in it I felt uneasy. The car seats are worn out the doors have to be banged hard to close.]

Because of the heavy tyres, I do not feel the potholes. I one time drove through Kisoro, when the roads were still terrible. Other people got out of their cars to remove the soils away, but I just manoeuvred.

Given an option to suggest a transport car for the college, which would you choose?

The Tata still because all these other Japanese vehicles are weak and cannot run for a long time. Tata, being an Indian brand, still makes wonders although some people do not trust Indian products .Some believe they are fake, which is not true. Actually I advise all institutions, especially schools, to buy such vehicles.

Does it still carry people?

No, because the school has a new spacious school bus and no one would rush for the Tata. However, given permission, we can drive about eighty people in it.

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