Hi FFRR nuts,
Some of you may have seen my ramblings about my FFRR experiences in Nigeria either in my posts or in my responses to other peoples posts. Raymond (RRG or better London to Cape Town in the FFRR TD6 hero) suggested to write some of the interesting bits in the Africa section and here we go.
We moved to Nigeria in earnest on 17 April 2009 after an exploratory visit (we are going to DIE, my wife kept saying, obviously we haven't yet ) and I had a few short deployments between Feb and April. In the beginning we relied on our driver to drive us around in the crazy crazy traffic. After a few months I tried my hand at driving (a little Toyota Yaris then) which was not a pleasant experience. Later we upgraded to an older (2001) Toyota Landcruiser, likely the most unreliable LC in the world.
Due to my busy work and our youngest daughter arriving, I needed my own car and drive myself or I would get stuck or not get to meetings on time as my wife needed the car and driver a lot. So with a bit of money coming in from an unexpected side, I decided to do something stupid and spend money on a very smart looking FFRR S/C (US import).
Why is that stupid, because people drive like complete idiots, cram 4 cars in two lanes with Okadas (small motorbikes going inbetween etc. You will hardly find a car without scratches or dents. So why take a very nice looking car and get it dented and scratched. Just because this was my chance to finally drive one of the most beautiful 4wds in the world and a car I had been dreaming of owning for years. So away with common sense and go for it.
Well I haven't regretted it for a second, the car is still dent free (from traffic that is, I stupidly made a too tight turn underneath a barrier so now I have a small dent AT THE ROOFLINE for crying out loud ). Some minor scratches, other than that the FFRR has done very well. And don't think it is my defensive driving because that will get you sitting in one spot till midnight before you can move.
Driving in Nigeria is not for the fainthearted, my heartbeat still jumps at least twice a week, sometimes almost daily, at some of the things happening around me in traffic. And those are the things that could actually impact me, let alone the other stuff I see happening in traffic. It does change your driving, actually for the better in some ways, because you have to be incredibly alert here all the time. Especially the Okadas use "special rules", lane directions don't apply to them, they weave through traffic like ants on a hot plate, they are completely fearless or stupid but probably both. Some towns actually banned them but they are too vital for Lagos residents for this governor to ban them. Also cars do "funny" things so again you have to be very alert and I always drive with one thumb on the horn button and I try to use it only when necessary and I still use it daily. On the other hand it is great to be driving around here in a FFRR, because the comfort of the car is really something you appreciate in this traffic and climate.
Maintenance and repair of cars over here is a different story. First of all, the "official" dealer is ridiculously expensive and you still can't rely on them doing the right thing. Garages here are notorious for removing good parts from cars, replacing them with crap parts to sell the good parts and quality of work is horrendous in a lot of places. Luckily our owner (lived here for 40 years !) has decided to have our own workshop with some good mechanics and only one of them (the best) works on my car on stuff I don't want to do or can't do. The electronics I do myself (using the Faultmate) mainly, with a lot of help from the forum of course.
The roads in Nigeria are usually in bad condition, potholes all over the place, getting worse during the rainy season so a 4WD or higher ground clearance makes sense (although is not vital). I do use offroad height going into most puddles because you never know how deep they are or got as the rainy season progresses.
Luckily petrol is very cheap here because the city driving with slow traffic (the notorious Go Slows) increases the fuel consumption quite a bit. Also quality of petrol is not great and I use a particular petrol station in Lagos as their fuel seems to be OK, less check engine lights coming on
This is part 1 for now, have a look at my gallery for some pics of the car, I will add some interesting pics when I get them of Lagos life with the FFRR in it
Genie MY 2010 5.0 SC Galway green and sand interior!!
Have the Faultmate MSV2 Extreme to be tinkering with the settings etc. !!
Suzuki B-King rider