One of the toughest testing grounds on earth is in Namibia where Mitsubishi have excelled. The country represents some of the toughest terrain on earth with conditions varying from hot sandy deserts to rugged mountains and even swamps in parts of the country. Apart from the tough terrain it is also sparsely inhabited with occasional settlements and vast distances between towns. This requires grader crews to head into the wilderness for weeks on end with enough diesel and supplies to reach far flung places and grade roads in order to keep communities connected.
Erich Bartsch of Barex Equipment, ELB Equipment’s dealer in Namibia, has sold a vast number of new Hidromek graders to Namibia’s road construction and maintenance crews over the past three years without a hitch so far. Based on his own personal experience in the 1990s as a mechanic for previous dealers, Windhoek Hire and Services, the graders are rock solid and worthy of staking one’s reputation upon. Since taking over the dealership and forming his own business 10 years ago he has sold many graders into the market place and is currently responsible for after-market support of the country’s large fleet of Mitsubishi/Hidromek graders dispersed across the vast country.
“Namibia boasts some of the best graded gravel roads in the world even despite the rural nature of the country. It relies on our machines to maintain the toughest parts of the country’s roads and has done so for the past two decades when the newly-formed Government received a gift of 14 Mitsubishi graders from the Japanese government. Those machines proved themselves over and over and are still in operation across the country today,” Erich says.
He adds that contractors responsible for road construction and maintenance also rely on the Mitsubishi / Hidromek due to their low running costs and continuous availability. Fuel savings also play a major role with contractors who operate mixed fleets reporting fuel savings of the Mitsubishi/Hidromek amounting to approximately two-million Namibian Dollars over five years. “These are not my words; it is feedback from sub-contractors who have given me the figures.”
Contractors also prefer the simplicity of the machines with fewer things to go wrong and no need for out-of-town technicians in the event of a fault. This applies to all models from the Hidromek MG 460 18 ton to the Hidromek MG 431 16-ton and Hidromek MG 330 14-ton machines depending on the size of the roads required in particular areas. Fuel savings also help to keep the machines out in the field for longer where the size of the diesel bowser may decide how far the grader may venture into the bush to clear roads.
In far flung areas such as those in the North – surrounding towns like Oshakati – graders are essential for road building, as well as assistance with other infrastructural projects such as the delivery of water infrastructure and building such as schools and hospitals. Michael Nghulondo who owns Cango Construction in Ongwediva, recently insisted on buying a Hidromek MG 460 grader when his business began expanding into site preparation for construction sites as well as local road maintenance and construction projects.
“I know and have worked with Mitsubishi graders in the past. As a result, when the requirement for a grader was warranted I personally insisted on purchasing a new Hidromek MG 460 to assist with the growing amount of projects we are undertaking for rural communities. I trust Hidromek and know it will be a good investment in years to come. I also trust the local support through Barex and sub-dealer, Northern Auto Repairs.
“Already my operators have built up a high level of respect for the machine and its ability and power compared with other brand-name graders that I have hired until now. It is clearly more efficient in terms of fuel which considerably stretches our budget. In fact, we are constantly surprised at how much work can be done on a single tank of diesel fuel. These graders are in line with my strategy for the future to grow the business to be self-sustainable. Out here our reputation is everything and we aim to become well known for our dependability and adherence to time schedules – so reliability is of the utmost importance,” says Nghulondo.
Owner of Northern Auto Repairs, Braam Ellis supports Michael’s views adding that the northern region is in the grip of a severe drought. Budgets have been slashed and money is tight making efficiency a top priority for local contractors. “Payments can take some time to materialise out here, so as far as contractors are concerned it pays to have machines that deliver the quickest return on their investments and pay for themselves as quickly as possible.”