…As Mercedes-Benz Plans to make Buses, Ambulances in Nigeria
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Managing Director of M-B Automobile Services Limited, Nigeria’s leading Mercedes-Benz dealer and affiliate of Weststar Associates Limited, Mr. Benson Uwatse, has berated the former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s regime for failing to first address challenges facing the nation’s auto industry before implementing the auto policy.
Answering questions from journalists, at a press briefing organized to mark the company’s 25th year anniversary, recently, Mr. Uwatse, made it clear that he was never against the auto policy, expressed concern over what he described as “precipitous approach that the previous government took” in announcing and implementing the policy.
“Having been in business of importing and repairing of Mercedes Benz cars for so long,” he said, “next level for me, ideally, before retiring would be to assemble Mercedes-Benz products in Nigeria. And from my discussions with Mercedes Benz, they are not opposed to it either. It’s a dammed good idea.
However, in his view, implementing the auto policy should have been preceded with legislation and putting in place certain basic infrastructures, especially power supply.
“In Nigeria today, we do not have an industry that manufactures windshield wiper,” he pointed out. “That is the smallest, the cheapest, the lowest level of ancillary item you need in a car. The tyre industry has disappeared. They have moved to Ghana and other places. There is no power. As we speak we are running our own generator, which we do everyday from morning till night.”
He said due to the nation’s inadequate power supply, Mercedes-Benz cars, for now, can not be manufactured in Nigeria, because its manufacturing process is fully automated and any sudden power failure would lead to system crash.
“So Mercedes-Benz are now asking us, that since we want to assemble Sprinter buses and ambulances, which are a lot easier to do, where is the legislation?” he explained. “There is no country that has assembled vehicles in the world without a national assembly or the parliament passing a law, which crosses through all governments. If the Jonathan administration had got the national assembly to pass a law, there would be no questions now, because this government would be bound by it.”
Notwithstanding, Mr. Uwatse announced that Mercedes-Benz is ready to commence assembly of mini buses and ambulances in Nigeria, as soon as there is a legislation backing the nation’s auto policy.