Namonye: The city expert car pimp

“I was born in Sironko District to the late Aidah Nambafu and Patrick Wagama. My father was polygamous but I’m the third born in a family of five. I went to Budadiri Primary School after which I joined Madibira Secondary School. But, with the death of my parents, I did not make it past the first term of Senior One in 2000. Their death spelt doom for me as I had big dreams of doing a unique business in future.

Starting outHaving dropped out of school, I felt it unfair going to stay home and live on handouts. I started looking for any job that could earn me a living. In the course of jobhunting, a relative offered me a job as a dish washer at her restaurant in Busia. Whenever I was not busy, I observed what the cooks were doing and vowed to learn their job so that given chance, I could do what they were doing better. One day, my lucky star shone when the senior chefs went on a sit-down strike at the peak hour of kitchen work. They laid down their tools because of low pay. I asked the boss to give it a try. She did not trust my skills because I was young and she had never seen me cook. When I cooked, she was impressed with the results. It was then that she allowed me to cook.

We had a regular customer at the restaurant that I admired, he was a boy from my village who always came to the restaurant looking smart and smelling good. During the Christmas holiday of 2003 in the village, I went to him and asked: “What can I do to be like you? I admire you very much.” “Find a job in a garage. While there, don’t ask your boss for money but acquire the skills, he aised.” At the beginning of the year, I did not go back to Busia and followed the aice I was given.

I went to Mbale and got a job at a big garage in Maluku Division. Having gotten the job with my small savings from the restaurant in Busia, I rented a room near Mbale Town from where I could commute to work. I started learning panel beating and spraying. One thing I love in life are challenges. I took this head on, determined to learn as fast as I could. After three years at the garage, two of my stepbrothers came from Sironko to visit me. They were on their way to Entebbe where they were working as builders. They convinced me to come with them to Kampala with a promise of a better job opportunity.

Abandoned in KampalaMy stepbrothers were working as porters at different construction sites in Entebbe. They assured me there were jobs in Kampala and Entebbe as long as I had money to transport the three of us to Entebbe. I was eager to work in Kampala little did I know they wanted transport from me but there were no jobs.After a few days in Entebbe, they were threatened with eviction from the house, yet they had not secured another job. One morning, they told me they were going to Kampala and so I should go with them so that the landlord does not find me. We set off, and when we reached Kamwokya, they disappeared. I could not find my way back to Entebbe and having known they were being thrown out of the house, I decided to go to my uncle in Banda. With the Shs10,000 I had, I decided to find my way to our uncle’s place in Banda on foot. On seeing me, he chased me. that night I shared sleeping space with dogs in a tomato stall in Banda market.

It was on that night that I thought about a long time friend, Abasi Wadada from Sironko. He had told me about his stint at Ridar Hotel construction site in Seeta. The next day, I called him up and he gave me directions to his workplace. When I got there, he was not allowed to talk to me, instead the site engineer asked me whether I had come to look for a job. I said yes.

Immediately, I was given a job as a porter on the site. Within a few days, everyone praised me for the hard work. Unfortunately, that was not my dream job. So, my workmate Mutesa and I gave up construction work. Since the other part part of the hotel was already functioning, we were offered jobs as waiters. But I declined the offer.

First earningsA friend I had met in Seeta took me to his place in Makerere so that I could try my luckthere. While there, I tried looking for jobs at the different garages around but in vain. We went back to Seeta where I went to an old man’s garage.

My first interviewThe interview was to panel beat a car in the garage. This was fodder for me. He was impressed that he immediately paid me Shs4,000. I was assigned to work on a Mercedes Benz frame which had been lying around the garage for long. The results impressed thegarage owner, so, he offered to bring me to Industrial area, at another garage near former Club Obligato on Port Bell road. I concentrated on panel beating until the owner was evicted because of rent. However, during that time, I had been doing a part-time stint for Akamba Motors mainly working on their tractors. I became a temporary employee.

Experimenting with materialsWhile at Akamba motors, I had been assigned to create some parts of the tractors that had not been brought or damaged during transportation. It was during this time that my first experimented using fibre mats to create the missing parts. In 2010, I moved from Akamba Motors to Gaddafi Road in Makerere where I continued to do panel beating and also continued with the stint at Akamba whenever they needed me. The cost and timePimping a Lexus Sport costs about Shs45m mainly because of the cost of the materials I use to remodel some parts. A Lexus takes two rolls of 200kg each of fibre mat, 100 litres of resin, and 10 litres of hardener. An 100kg roll of fibre costs Shs3.5m, resin is sold in barrels of 300kg, each costs Shs7.5m while hardener is sold in 20 litre cans each at Shs 900,000. A Toyota Corolla saloon can be done for at least Shs10m. On average, I make Shs 500,000 per month.

It takes up to a month to have a car pimped to the client’s satisfaction. ChallengesSince I do not own the garage, I pay rent per car and day. Each car is charged Shs3,000 per day in the garage. For instance, if it takes a month to pimp one car, it is Shs90,000 per car for a month. In addition to this, the space is not sufficient. As if that is not enough, there are many clients who have cheated me. After pimping the car they never part with the money. I call and the phones are unanswered until I give up on them.

AchievementsThrough this business, I have made many friends in the past three years and I employ 20 youths and my children go to school, and I’m planning to build a house.

The dreamHowever, my dream is to set up a company that pimps cars. It should be known internationally. I’m also looking to expanding my business and creating employment for most youths. Given chance to have bigger space, I can employ more youths and train them so that they get off the street.My only wish is for the government to help me get a bigger operation place.

Turning pointI set out to do unique business. Here I was, thinking of pimping cars. In 2011, I moved to the current garage on Sekanyolya Road, near Makerere University, hospital. One day, a customer popularly known as Hakuna Matata of the famous pork joint in Makindye asked to have a unique feature on his car and was willing to part with whatever amount. The initial plan involved him coming up with the idea of what the vehicle should look like but then he let me do the thinking. My work did not disappoint and he later brought a Land Cruiser Cygnus to be pimped as well.

Henceforth, his friends admired his pimped cars and started bringing theirs too. Those included Pastor Aloysius Bugingo’s car, and another that belonged to a reverend, among others. I also got Moses M, a businessman from Kikuubo, and in 2011 I decided to concentrate on pimping cars. What it takes

imping materials include fibre mat, resin and hardener which are expensive. I used to buy them from Nalukolongo. Through a friend, I learnt I could import them at a cheaper rate from Kenya. He connected me to a dealer from Kenya who brings the materials for me. I use fibre mats to create the body for the extensions. Because of the poor roads in the country, the body is made of up to seven or more layers of the fibre mat. To create a layer, the fibre mat is spread with resin and hardener. The finished layers are stuck together using hardener to create the body. It is then smoothed using fibre fila and other chemicals.



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