Thursday, 7 March 2019

Time to Look for Another Car?

Yesterday morning, I was checking the levels in the Nissan X-Trail, when I found oil in the radiator, but no sign of water / refrigerant in the Oil, that put paid to Marcela going to work, which thanks to the Local Authorities had already been mucked up, more on that later.

So the car ended up going on a breakdown truck, over to Marcela's Uncle's workshop in Medellin, he rang us later to say there was a trace of water on the cap of the oil filler, so he was not convinced there was not engine damage, and wanted to take the engine apart to confirm that it was not the head gasket gone, one way or the other. The breakdown Driver had looked himself, and thought it was the transmission cooler, so we will just have to wait and see, Hernan (Uncle) thinks it will take a week to do, but he is going to contact us once he is sure and give us a quote.

This Nissan is just jinxed, not only by the problems we have had since buying it, but also here the parts are a horrendous price. If the problem is not an easy fix, I think we are going to sell as fast as possible, and look for another Montero, the only thing that put me off, is that the newer models only have four seats, and when Marcela is taxing the family around she needed five, tough, they will have to make their own way in future if that happens.

I said Marcela had been mucked about, as most of you that follow my posts will know, we have Pico y Placa here in Colombia, which effects all vehicles running on solely Petrol or Diesel (with the exception of 4 stroke bikes) , the idea being to reduce vehicle emissions. You are restricted to when you can use your vehicle in the towns and City nearby according to the last number on your registration plate, when it runs normally, that stops you going on the road between 7am and 8.30am also 5.30pm to 7pm, two days a week,normally this is not a problem for me, but for those who work...

Then a few weeks ago, they brought in Pico y Placa Ambiental, which added every other Saturday to your list of prohibited times, and included 4 stroke bikes for the first time.

 The problem of smog has apparently got so bad they have declared it 'Red' and this week they have introduced further restrictions, you can no longer use your car between 5am and 10am also 4pm to 9pm, which defeats the object of having a vehicle, and paying high taxes for the privilege of doing so.

The fact that these restrictions have had to be imposed just goes to prove my argument that Pico y Placa in Colombia does not work. For a number of reasons, they do nothing to reduce the emissions from Public Buses, because the owners pay Transito (Traffic Police) to look the other way. Nothing is done about the pollution from Factories that belch out smoke, it is just the ordinary Joe on the street who suffers, because he or she,  can't use the vehicle he has paid taxes for, and Public Transport is apalling to say the least, but they are then expected to pay again to use that, only lining the pockets of those service owners who are already allowed to flout the law.

The reason there is such a pollution problem in Colombia, is not solely down to vehicle and factory emissions, but the fact that the Government National and Local will not invest in the highway infrastructure. Motorways in Colombia are little more than 'A' or main roads, they go through every town and village, anyone can use them, from pedestrians, to horse riders, pedal cyclists to fork lift trucks, in many areas the speed limit is 80kph. The result of this is that towns and Cities are gridlocked by vehicles that only want to pass through, resulting in sitting traffic, and avoidable pollution. Local traffic wanting to avoid these gridlocks, then takes to the minor road, causing exactly the same problem.

What Colombia needs, is to invest in a proper Motorway system, by-passing all urban areas, allowing traffic that can move at a pace, to travel from A to B without sitting in queues, and thereby  reducing pollution, and the need for pico y placa.

In the mean time, the Government should insist that when we reach the 'red' zone all Public Transport should be free at source, because most of those people have already paid for the right to access those roads, and here in Colombia that is not cheap, but which Government Officials can get away with lining their own pockets, and making people's lives a misery, they will.


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