A doctoral student at the University of Benin, Edo State, Eghosa Igbinosa, who built a light truck to transport goods with locally sourced materials, says GODFREY GEORGE how was he able to do it

He recently built a light vehicle as part of his PhD requirement. What really inspired the project?

I have always wanted to find solutions to the problems in my immediate environment. In a world of rapidly developing countries, there is a need to improve manufacturing processes and agricultural production methods. This will lead to a greater volume of goods to be transported. In many Nigerian cities where the use of trikes is prevalent, you will find that these trikes, which were originally intended to carry human passengers, are now becoming unsafe cargo or utility vehicles for transporting goods. This is achieved by extending its longitudinal length or rear overhang well beyond the rear wheel of the trike and by building a transport facility on the roof of the trike, making it laterally stable.

This act of rebuilding the vehicle to try to serve the purpose of transporting goods is an indication that there is an inadequate level of transportation needs for a large group of people, such as merchants, small and medium business owners, and local farmers.

Transportation, being so vital to the development of any nation, it became very imperative for me to develop a local utility vehicle using locally sourced materials and technology.

What were some of the challenges you faced building this mini truck, and how did you get the funding to do it?

I encountered many challenges while working on the project, including the lack of availability of the proper equipment needed to design and manufacture the vehicle and its components.

The project was 100 percent privately funded by me. The expense in developing the utility vehicle includes the acquisition of all the basic shop tools needed for construction, the materials for manufacturing the vehicle parts, the cost of tools to produce simple jigs and fixtures, and of course, the cost of running the power generator and providing logistics while working on the project.

How long did it take you to finish the project?

It took around 36 months to complete the vehicle. This includes development and construction. I spent so much time mainly due to the fact that construction work was carried out only on weekends. I am sure that it could have taken less time to complete the manufacture of the vehicle if the construction work had been done on a daily basis.

Were all vehicle components sourced locally?

The light utility vehicle was produced largely from 67 percent locally manufactured original auto components.

Original locally produced components for utility vehicle manufacturing include all vehicle bodywork (cab, doors, and cargo compartment), chassis, suspension, and wheel assembly (axles, hubs, knuckles, lower control arms). dashboard, seats, etc.

The modified existing auto parts used in the vehicle make up about 13 percent of the vehicle’s components. These include the rack and pinion steering box and column, windshield, door glass, door key mechanism, instrument cluster unit, etc. Thus, 80 percent of the vehicle’s components were made locally. However, an estimated 20% of vehicle parts came from donor vehicles and were used directly. These parts include the motor/gearbox bearings, shaft, etc.

How much did you spend from start to finish and how did you get the funds?

The sum of N1.2m was spent on the development of the vehicle and the fund came from my personal savings.

How has the reception been?

From the comments I have read in some of the publications about the work, I can say that the reception has been great. Many people are excited and have accepted the utility vehicle as a Nigerian made vehicle and wish that the utility vehicle can be mass produced immediately. I am encouraged and happy about the development. (All) glory be to God!

What is the capacity of this vehicle?

The light utility vehicle (600 kg) has a maximum load capacity of one ton (1000 kg) and a designed maximum speed of 75 km/h.

Due to the geometric dimensions of the vehicle, the wheel length is about 2,145 mm and it has a track width of 1,200 mm. The vehicle has the advantage of being able to access areas that a larger truck cannot reach, making it applicable for use on narrow farm roads.

Another surprising advantage of this model of the vehicle is that it is equipped with an 8.5 KW IC motor of similar design to the types that can be found in some motorcycles. What this means is that it makes the vehicle low maintenance cost, low fuel consumption and can be easily serviced by both motorcycle and auto mechanics.

Is this what you do for a living originally?

Okay, yes. I am self-employed and I dedicate myself to the general practice of engineering. I am a PhD student of Engineering at the University of Benin, Edo State.

Has studying engineering always been your dream?

Yes, I always wanted to be an engineer and that passion or dream was evident in the things I was involved in growing up.

What kind of growth did you have?

Growing up in Benin City, Edo State can be described as interesting. Although my late parents were not the rich type, my brother and I were properly guided by them to be who we are today. As a child, I spent most of my playtime trying to make my own toys. I remember making my own cars and planes since my brothers and I weren’t lucky enough to have ready-made toys in the big box stores.

Was there a moment in your academic pursuit when you almost gave up on your dream?

Yes, of course. While pursuing my education, I had many challenges that at some points were able to stall my dreams, but Almighty God helped me overcome them all.

First of all, my father (who died late) retired from the civil service the year I got admission to the University of Benin for an engineering degree, in production engineering. This made my access to the fund very limited. I only had two textbooks of my own in my five years of study. Twice I begged one of my teachers, Prof. Ibhadode, for money to feed. By God, he is the supervisor of this current project that I embarked on.

Secondly, my M.Eng was difficult because I had to work and study at the same time for my exams. As for my PhD dream, some time ago I got admission for PhD and started research work, but I quit because I couldn’t combine work and research workload. It didn’t put me off; I bought a new form the following year, but never had time to process it because I was on field work. I had to buy another form the third time, which I couldn’t process for the same reason as the second. It seemed like it was not going to be possible, but to the glory of Almighty God, I am currently in the final phase of my PhD. The PhD research paper on the Light Utility Vehicle made it the fourth time I have attempted a PhD study.

What do you plan to do after your PhD?

For now, I have ruled out the possibility of being in the classroom in the future. However, I hope to mass-produce this model of the vehicle and other models after my PhD.

What kind of support will you need to mass-produce this vehicle?

At this stage of vehicle development, I need technical and financial partners to accompany me. I would like to take this opportunity to call on the government, the private sector, and individuals to join me in mass-producing the current model of the vehicle and other versions of the vehicle, including other electric and fuel-powered car designs. integrated circuits and buses too. I would love them to carry out research work in other areas such as aeronautics, where I am also very competent.

Do you think the Nigerian government has supported manufacturers?

The government has been very supportive, but I think it can do better than it has done so far to support manufacturers in Nigeria. In particular, I would like to see a situation where the government will formulate more favorable policies to protect local manufacturers from stiff competition with their foreign counterparts and also create access to foreign exchange, reduction or exemption of import duties on spare parts, materials and specialized machines. for indigenous manufacturers in Nigeria, among others.

How rewarding has engineering been for you?

The benefits have been enormous and can be better if the Nigerian government fully supports the practice of engineering in Nigeria by providing a conducive environment for the general practice of engineering. Making funds available for research work may be one way to achieve this.

What advice do you have for the government regarding teaching Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics to young children?

With regard to the teaching of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in the context of education policy in Nigeria, the government can make the policy more effective by intensifying the teaching of these four areas of study along with massive practical sections and assignments in primary and secondary school. through Nigeria. This can help stimulate young Nigerian students to be innovative and focus on creating scientific ideas and technologies.