First lo­cally made car un­veiled

Lesotho Times - - Front Page - Retha­bile Pitso

DE­SPITE never set­ting foot at a ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tion nor re­ceiv­ing any for­mal train­ing be­yond sec­ondary education, three Khu­bet­soan­abased me­chan­ics have pro­duced the first ever lo­cally-made car.

Moshoeshoe I, as the car is called, is the fruit of the labour of Na­mane Le­saoana (30), Ma­tooane Ma­tooane (24), and Tankiso Ma­hone (24) who put their me­chan­i­cal and de­sign skills to use in a pro­ject that has taken over a year and count­ing.

The trio op­er­ates from the Le­saoana fam­ily’s homestead, which also dou­bles as a me­chanic work­shop. Ac­cord­ing to Mr Le­saoana, it all started on 14 Fe­bru­ary 2015 when they started to sketch the de­sign of the ve­hi­cle.

“While our peers were cel­e­brat­ing Valen­tine’s Day, we were busy con­cep­tu­al­is­ing our dream,” he told the Le­sotho Times while metic­u­lously ap­ply­ing some fin­ish­ing touches to the ve­hi­cle.

“We were de­ter­mined to make some­thing dif­fer­ent from what has al­ready be­ing made and to place Le­sotho on the map. This model is one of its kind, and just as car man­u­fac­tur­ers al­ways make pro­to­types, ours is not any dif­fer­ent.”

A coat of black and or­ange paint adorns the mean-look­ing ve­hi­cle which made its first ap­pear­ance on the streets of Khu­bet­soana last week leav­ing on­look­ers in awe. To add to its ap­peal, Moshoeshoe I’s grill was de­signed to mimic the tra­di­tional Ba­sotho hat Moko­rotlo.

It has a 3 litre petrol en­gine and also comes with such ba­sics as a steer­ing wheel, ac­cel­er­a­tor, brakes and clutch. How­ever, it is ev­i­dent by the rudi­men­tary na­ture of some of the ve­hi­cle’s parts that it is still a work in progress.

“We have a num­ber of com­po­nents that are still to be in­stalled such as lights and win­dows as well as fin­ish­ing touches to the in­te­rior in­clud­ing seat cov­ers and other fur­nish­ings.

“We in­tend to fin­ish the car off once we have gath­ered enough funds,” said Mr Le­saoana.

He said the car’s de­sign was spawned by a need to gen­er­ate in­come.

“Ini­tially, we de­signed this car with the in­ten­tion of us­ing it for sell­ing pop­corn. As you can see, the back was de­signed to mount two pop­corn mak­ers which would be mounted on the roof.

“The spa­ces on the sides would en­able eas­ier de­liv­ery of the pop­corns to cus­tomers. Our in­ten­tion was to make a ve­hi­cle that would help us es­tab­lish a busi­ness,” Mr Le­saoana said.

“Apart from sell­ing pop­corn, our dream is to cre­ate a fleet which could be hired for var­i­ous pur­poses. We have the pas­sion and know-how to make cars, so all we need are the re­sources and we will con­tinue to im­prove.”

Mr Ma­tooane chipped in say­ing they were un­able to fin­ish mak­ing the ve­hi­cle due to lack of spon­sors.

“We ap­proached a few in­vestors with our con­cept hop­ing to get spon­sor­ship for the pro­ject, but none of them bought into the idea,” he said.

“Their lack of sup­port has not de- terred us from pur­su­ing our pas­sion. We would have taken a much shorter time to fin­ish if we had re­ceived sup­port, but it was a strug­gle to get this far.”

Plans were afoot, Mr Ma­tooane said, to reg­is­ter the ve­hi­cle al­though he pen­sively con­ceded that it would be a “long process”.

“We are al­ready ini­ti­at­ing the reg­is­tra­tion process and have since learnt that Moshoeshoe I would have to un­dergo rig­or­ous in­spec­tion,” he said.

“Given how such mat­ters are han­dled in Le­sotho, it would not come as a sur­prise if we were told that the ve­hi­cle qual­i­fies to be li­cenced as a cart. How­ever, we are de­ter­mined to get the recog­ni­tion from the au­thor­i­ties that it is a car.”

Mr Le­saoana’s father Le­saoana Le­saoana, who is also a me­chanic, lauded the trio for their per­se­ver­ance.

“It took de­ter­mi­na­tion for th­ese boys to get to where they are to­day. A pro­ject such as this re­quires per­sis­tence, oth­er­wise they would have aban­doned it mid­stream,” he said.

“They have sac­ri­ficed so much to get to this point. Be­fore un­veil­ing the ve­hi­cle last week, they hid it away from pry­ing eyes.

“They did not want to be dis­tracted by peo­ple who al­ways of­fer their opin­ions and dis­cour­age them.”

Mr Le­saoana se­nior added that the un­veil­ing of Moshoeshoe I had made a pro­found im­pres­sion in the com­mu­nity.

“To the lit­tle boys grow­ing up in the neigh­bour­hood, they are he­roes. To some of their peers, they are geniuses while oth­ers se­cretly envy their skills,” he said.

Mean­while, Min­istry of Pub­lic Works and Trans­port In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer, Madrass Mo­jai, told the Le­sotho Times Moshoeshoe I would need to un­dergo rig­or­ous tests be­fore be­ing deemed road­wor­thy.

“The own­ers would be re­quired to take the car for a fit­ness test so they can be is­sued with a road­wor­thy cer­tifi­cate if the test is a suc­cess. A ve­hi­cle which does not pos­sess such cer­ti­fi­ca­tion can­not be al­lowed on the road,” he said.

“Since we do not man­u­fac­ture cars here in Le­sotho, the depart­ment of trans­port is usu­ally re­spon­si­ble for cer­ti­fy­ing ve­hi­cles in ac­cor­dance with the Road Traf­fic Act of 1981.

“Such agen­cies as In­ter­pol and the Le­sotho Rev­enue Au­thor­ity are also en­gaged in the process to en­sure that a ve­hi­cle is not stolen and has com­plied with tax reg­u­la­tions.”

from left: Na­mane le­saoana, his father le­saoana le­saoana and tankiso Ma­hone aboard Moshoeshoe I.

the ve­hi­cle’s cock­pit

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