Friday, August 15, 2008

Mein Jeep, Mein kamf

A Jeep update, that may or may not turn into a commentary, on the recent ammendments to the employment law, whereby no new mechanics may be hired from overseas by small automotive shops, but which alows tha gaint car sales monopolies to continue hiring as many foreighn workers as they want, therefore putting them at an unfair advantage and threatening the livelyhoods of many small omani business owners.

I am Suburban, godess of the run-on sentence.

After having the Jeep in the shop for a little more that a week, half of which was spent just trying to find a towe truck driver who was not too Lazy and useless Busy to come round and pick the damn thing up, ( thank you fabulous Omanisation laws!) we got it back just in time for me to run the thing into another car. It was a really minor accident, and I fixed the fender myself within about a day and a half, after much strugle to obtain the correct parts.

Stone took the Jeep into work the following day, and called me on the way home saying that the engine had cut out and the temp guage was running hot. He let the engine cool for about ten minutes, and the started it up and was able to make it to within three blocks of the house when the thing cut out again. It appears that the oil we found in the coolant, blocked the in gauge to the the Brand New Thermostat, thus rendering the brand new water pump Useless. The thing was hot, and blowing the tell-tale blue smoke that is the surest sign that you've just cooked your rings or warped your block. We are somewhat certain that if the engine wasn't toast before, it is now.

Fear not, I have not lots all sense of perspective. I love cars, and I am trying to look at this as an oppertunity to do a good deed for a much beloved, though totally unreliable older car. I shall have the engine replaced, the transmission rebuilt, the electrics fixed, the computer replaced, and the front seats replaced and repaired so that when I get the thing back, it will be better than a new car, assuming one can ignore the horrednous body damage on the outside.

I will have this work done by various shops in Wadi Kabir, all of them owned by small Omani Businessmen, and staffed mostly by Indian, or sometimes Bangladeshi mechanics. They are generally just as good as the big dealerships and have much better customer service. It is worth adding that the smaller workshops seem happy to have me wandering around in the back, fiddling with tools, and chatting to the mechanics, the bigger dealerships absolutley won't let me be hands on with my own car, which makes explaining electrical gremlins, or smallish problems mind bogglingly difficult.

Actually, I sort of want to take a nap now. I'll be back tonight or tomorrow to talk about the new Omanization programme, for which I have both lavish praise, and scathing criticizims.


Anonymous said...

Most Oman labor laws favor the established (establishment) at the expense of the new entrepreneur.
If you go into the Chairman of the Chamber of Commerce’s businesses – no Omanization, go into Times of Oman – no Omanization, go into Blue City – no Omanization into Mazda (the family of Ministry of Commerce no Omanization, Zawawi, Zubair …. YET they ALL benefit from government financial favoritism AND skilled labor at lower costs because their labor is foreign.
Most economies which are dynamic and expanding rely on the small business and entrepreneur to develop new businesses and skills. Which they can do because taxes and other burdens are not applicable until they make profits – in Oman – no taxes and huge subsidies for established businesses reverse that.
Just wait until the government picks up the tab for Blue City and still leaves the existing owners with partial ownership to see how big a subsidy these people get.
No wonder the UAE is now eying Oman – no local dynamism in Oman cause of the favoritism towards existing businesses means new Omani businesses are killed at Birth and so the Emirati companies (smaller ones like LuLu, City Plaza/Baby Shop/Safeer often owned by Indians etc) can move in and take the contracts (look at all the new resorts – Futtaim or Sheikh Mohammed or some Egyptian ) ASTOUNDING.

Suburban said...

anon, thanks for the comment! I'll be following up on this one later in the week.