Out with the old, in with the new

29 March 2018 | Local News

Following 27 years of independence celebrations, Namibians have come to expect the president on the back of a small, but dated, military 4x4 vehicle with white rims.

The image of a waving Sam Nujoma, Hifikepunye Pohamba and Hage Geingob, atop this army-green vehicle, has become synonymous with 21 March at a stadium somewhere in the country. This year, however, was a different picture and it was immediately picked up by citizens (and media) everywhere.

As it turns out, the UAZ Patriot on which President Geingob rode into the stadium in Tsumeb on 21 March, came fresh off the production line in Ulyanovsk, Russia in November last year, and the defence force bought three of the first batch produced. The updated military versions cost roughly N$216 000 each and they arrived at the port of Walvis Bay on 13 February. According to the order, two UAZ Patriot Cabriolets (seen on Independence Day) and one UAZ bakkie were purchased. Pictures of this year's Independence Day celebrations, however, show three identical vehicles - ceremonial cabriolets. UAZ, directly translated stands for Ulyanovsk Automobile Plant, which was founded in 1941. Following the German invasion of Russia during World War II, Joseph Stalin gave instruction that the manufacturing plant be moved from Moscow to Ulyanovsk, a town with the correct infrastructure and skilled labour, and one far out of the reach of Hitler's army. UAZ unveiled their new cabriolet Patriot off-roader late last year, and the first cars went to our government to be used at official ceremonies. Russian news agency Sputnik reported that “the country's president Hage Geingob used his new toy for the first time at Tsumeb's stadium during the 28th Independence Day celebrations”.





Furthermore, they wrote, “the car was supplied to one of the African states”.

UAZ noted that such cars are in demand in the defence ministries of different countries to participate in ceremonial events. As a rule, these cabriolets have a rear ladder, side handrails for the passengers' safety during driving, as well as special interior trim and a special body colour.

The UAZ Patriot is equipped with 2.7-litre petrol engine capacity of 135 HP, which works in combination with a five-speed manual gear box.

According to sources, training was provided to the Namibian military on the use of these vehicles a week or so after their arrival.

The former army-green 4x4 vehicles used in the past are also UAZ vehicles, but the models are roughly 30 years old.

YANNA SMITH

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