By Solomon Muyita
RECENTLY, Herbert, a colleague, walked in the office looking smart in a crystal-white shirt and navy-blue shirt with a matching tie. He was indeed feeling good.
But my first impression died quickly and shock waves set in, when he turned; only to see the shirt stained at the back. He had no idea that his shirt was in a mess.
When I alerted him, he suddenly remembered that his shirt got dirty in the taxi which he used get to the city from Makindye, a suburb.
Like him, so many people leave their homes neat but their clothes get soiled even before they reach their destinations, thanks to the dusty roads in this country.
This is coupled with either ignorant or irresponsible car owners/operators who do not take cleaning the interior of their cars, especially the seats, a priority or use crude means of cleaning. To be precise, most taxi commuters in the city look so nasty inside that you only decide to sit in them on the second thought.
Some people try to wash the outside of their vehicles. The ignorant owners always take their cars to any washing bay by the road side, where the inexperienced cleaners use the crude means of simply soaking rag in soap and water, rub the cars, then pour water on them to finish.
On the other hand, the vehicles imported in Africa nowadays are not of the right specification, given the poor nature of roads in the continent. In the olden days, car dealers used to import vehicles with plastic carpets and leather seats which were easy to clean and also to keep clean, but the ones coming in now need special treatment.
According to Paul Sserwano, an experienced car cleaner who has been living the UK: â€œThere are special machines and chemicals used to clean car seats, the carpets, roof and door linings to maintain them in their original colours,â€ he said.
This process, technically called â€œfull valetâ€, is done periodically. It is not so common in Uganda, but you could find them at selected automated washing bays in Kampala like Jeremyâ€™s Drive Thru Car Wash located at Nsambya Road.
The chemicals used in the cleaning and vanishing of cars are imported from South Africa or the UK.
Sserwano, who is the proprietor of Jeremyâ€™s, said, â€œthese are powerful chemicals, which when used with bare hands, they cause irritation.â€
A special hoover is used to punch the liquid chemical underneath the seat cover and sucks it (the chemical) out together with the entire dirt.
Sserwano says that the machine sucks the water in the car seats, carpets or linings to the extent that the cloth would be left semi-dry; you could actually not realise that it has been wetted the previous minute.
The seats that are unscrewed from the car before the cleaning process are then exposed to sunshine to do the rest of the drying.
By removing the seats, it allows the cleaning to extend to the car flow.
The car carpet is also removed and thoroughly cleaned with the chemicals before being replaced after the drying process.
The cleaning, which normally takes about eight hours, extends to the entire interior of the car. The side, door and roof lining are subjected to the same cleaning.
The car dashboard is also polished with a special vanish after its cleaning.
Sserwano says that unlike the unscrupulous washing bays that use motorcycle oil popularly known as Busia to polish the dashboard, the special imported dashboard polish, makes it shine, maintained in original colour and also acts as perfume for the cars.
It takes car cleaned in this professional way a whole six months to take it for another treat, if its driven on good tarmac roads without much dust. In the Ugandan upcountry-like roads, which are very dusty and muddy, it takes atleast three months.
At Jeremyâ€™s, full valet doesnâ€™t cost more than sh30,000. But the proprietor says that this includes cleaning the engine, its body and under carrier in the automated drive through washing. The process ends with the vanishing of the tyres.