The day after the Midis Energy Services Staff meeting described in my last post, I sent the following email to Atamuno Atamuno, owner of Midis:
Subject: Midis Vehicles
CC: “Ehirim, Iyke I [######]-PTP/D/NP”; “Ojo, Olufunmilayo O [######]-HRUI/FNG”
Last night at the meeting, you stated that all of the Midis provided vehicles had been purchased new. I pointed out this could not be true as the current vehicle provided for my transportation was over 10 years old and had 218,124 miles (351,037 kilometers) when it was exported from the USA to Benin in 2011. It is my understanding that it is not legal to import passenger vehicles that are older than 10 years into Nigeria.
I understand that you are very busy and frequently travel due to your business interests and have not been directly involved in the details of your business with [Company] lately. I know that you would not intentionally misrepresent the situation with the vehicles so you may have been misinformed by your staff here. In order that you are fully informed, I will describe the recent chronology of my current Midis provided vehicle:
Tuesday 22 January. I was picked up at [Company] by my assigned driver in a Toyota Camry LE. This was the second vehicle used for my transport that day and the third different vehicle in a week.
Wednesday 23 January. I sent an email to Chris Effiom expressing concern about the safety of the Midis provided vehicle. Chris visited me after work at my apartment and we discussed a steward for my apartment and the situation with the vehicles. I indicated that I felt a suitable vehicle for the road, traffic, safety and security conditions in Lagos was a small SUV that was not so old that maintenance would be a constant hassle. Chris appeared to agree with me.
Monday 28 January. My driver called me about 6:15 am to tell me to get a ride with another expat as the tire was flat on the Toyota and there was no spare tire. I did so and was able to get to the office on time.
Tuesday 29 January. The flat tire was fixed. I checked the trunk for a spare tire and other legally required safety equipment but it was empty except for some trash. I told the driver this was unacceptable to Shell and that I expected the vehicle to have a spare tire and the required safety equipment when he picked me up after work.
Wednesday 30 January. I checked the trunk again before going to work and found a spare tire and a fire extinguisher loose in the trunk. The spare tire did not appear to be the same size as the tires on the vehicle but the bolt pattern did appear to be the same so it would probably work.
Thursday 31 January. The driver’s side window was covered with water and impairing vision to the left as we were waiting to make a left turn at an intersection. I asked the driver to put the window down to clear the water or to be able to see clearly out the open window. He told me the window would not go down and pushed on the switch to demonstrate the problem. When I got to the office, I again sent an email to Chris to advise him of this problem.
Sunday 3 February. I observe the vehicle parked on the North side of the apartments with plastic sheeting over the fully opened window. See the attached photo.
Monday 4 February. The window is in the fully down position and will not go up. I am taken to Shell with the window stuck down.
Tuesday 5 February. I receive a text from driver at 3:51 pm telling me to get a ride home with another expat as the car is in the shop.
Wednesday 6 February. Vehicle is available to take me to and from work but window switch was still not repaired and vehicle was back in shop during day. The window was stuck in an intermediate position between up and down. I checked the mileage on the vehicle and it was a little over 5,000 miles.
Thursday 7 February. I receive a text from driver at 3:38 pm telling me to get a ride home with another expat as the car is in the shop again.
Friday 8 February. Meeting with you at Four Points Hotel. Driver advises me that the window is fixed after four trips to the shop but that the driver side door will not lock.
[Company’s] HSSE New Arrivals Information document version 1.0 dated June 2012 for Lagos section 5.1 VII says: “Keep the window of the vehicle you are traveling in, fully would up and the door locked.” I therefore consider working windows, locks and air conditioning critical safety equipment.
I believe the failures of the window switches and door locks are entirely due to the age and high mileage of this vehicle. The odometer has been “rolled back” to conceal the high mileage of the vehicle. When I inspected the vehicle, I found that the data plate that should be on the driver’s side door jamb that would typically show the date of manufacture and VIN number had been removed. The VIN number was intact on the dash and I was able to order a vehicle history report from CarFax based on the VIN number. Following is a short summary of the report and a longer summary is attached. The full report is of course available if you are interested.
The vehicle was manufactured on 1 Oct 2001. It was exported to Benin on 31 Oct 2011 with 218,124 miles (351,037 kilometers) 10 years and 30 days after manufacture. Since it is my understanding that it is not even legal to import vehicles over 10 years old into Nigeria, I don’t know how it got from Benin into the Midis fleet. Perhaps you can find out. The data plate from the driver’s side door jamb has been removed and the odometer rolled back to conceal the actual mileage and age (probably when it was smuggled into Nigeria from Benin).
I do not consider this a satisfactory vehicle and request that Midis provide a SUV suitable for the poor road conditions in Lagos with low enough mileage to be reliable considering the road, traffic, safety and security environment in Lagos and a with documented history to facilitate maintenance including implementation of manufacturer’s safety recalls.
Since you said that Midis only buys new vehicles, a new SUV will be acceptable of course.
I am sure this vehicle was acquired for my transportation by your staff without your knowledge and I trust that you will correct the situation in a timely manner.
[company email signature]
Later in the day, I received the following reply from Atamuno:
Dear Mr. Terry,