The China Auto Manufacturers (CAM) Botswana was recently in Maun, showcasing the strength of their new car model, the CAM Hippo. The amphibian vehicle is the most recent technological invention to hit the Botswana market. This Chinese vehicle moves on land as well as in water.
According to the Water Affairs Department (WAD), Water Quality Conservation Division Head, Oarabile Seromola, ├¼We were impressed when we heard that the Chinese had come up with an amphibious vehicle. More so when we learnt that a local company was assembling it. As such, we decided to invite the said company to come and demonstrate their product in order for us to see if we can make a proposal to our ministry to buy it for our imminent water quality monitoring project in the delta.
Seromola further explained that due to tourism activities and developments that are rapidly taking place in the delta, the Ministry of Minerals, Energy and Water Resources through the WAD is responsible for wetland’s protection from pollution activities hence it initiated the project.
She also said that accuracy of test results was fundamental to the project; therefore, there was a need for a vehicle with capacity and capability to reach wetland terrains inaccessible by boat and canoe. Other things that the department accessed during the vehicle demonstration were its user and environmental friendliness.
Asked as to whether her department intended to purchase the amphibious vehicle, Seromola said, ├¼Not yet, we still have a report to send to our director about today’s exhibition findings.├«
CAM Botswana Managing Director, Zain Bamjee, said the vehicle was basically invented for military use. At present, it is used by the Chinese, Russians and the United Nations militia in their rescue operations.
In Botswana, it could be an essential tool to the army, Department of Wildlife and national parks, Water Affairs Department and to the tour operator companies. He added that although the vehicle was manufactured in China, it is assembled by BB Motors in Gaborone. ├¼Being assembled locally also means that its spare parts are locally available. We also have an expert technician team to take care of all its mechanical problems,├« he said.
Bamjee further pointed out that the hippo uses an Isuzu 2, 8 double truck engine. It races at a maximum speed of 100km/hr on the road and 45km/hr in water. Once in water the wheels float and the vehicle is paddled by a propeller.
Electro-mechanics and tour operators who test drove the vehicle in the Thamalakane River ÔÇô with its muddy and weedy banks ÔÇö- were left impressed. They highly commended its silent engine and the way it moved on top of aquatic vegetation without causing any damage.