Catching up with MS Hameed proprietor of Panjims oldest garage Shibili Engineering Works, is interesting, discovers Shoma PatnaikGoa’s large number of garages is good news to the average vehicle owner. With company service stations costing the earth the neighborhood garage is the place to head for every dent and repair. Good quality car mechanics are hard to find these days which is why most drivers have their preferred garage to go to in emergency.
Panjim’s recommended garage is veteran Shibili Engineering Works, abbreviated to just Shibili by residents. The garage located in periphery of St Inez at Tambdi Mati, Taleigaon is probably the oldest in the city, says proprietor, MS Hameed who points out that all his three-four contemporaries have either died or closed down due to various reasons. Their land is sold to builders and you wouldn’t even find the trace of a garage, he says.
The yellowing license hung on the wall states Shibili’s year of starting as 1979. It was issued by the Directorate of Industries & Mines and inaugurated in a period when there were Ambassadors and Fiats plying on Goan roads along with few imported, foreign cars. A car mechanic who learnt on the job Hameed came to Goa sometime in the late sixties on request of the proprietor of Thakur Fiat Agencies, Panjim (now closed) from whom he worked in Mumbai.
An expert mechanic he was eager to make his fortune and was soon was running the Godinho Garage at St Inez (also closed) after which he decided to start his own. The 1,000 sq mtr of land for the garage was purchased at Rs 60 per sq mtr for a total sum of Rs 60,000. The money was a large sum those days but it feels like nothing now, says Hameed. Builders from the Taleigao-Caranzalem area which has the maximum number of housing complexes are regularly asking for the land but Hameed will never sell, he says.
The garage he continues will remain working as long as he is alive and his sons have been instructed accordingly. Getting nostalgic, Hameed points out that Tamdi Mati in the old days was an unsafe locality with dense cover of trees where decent people did not reside. It was actually a red light area and he had great difficulty in setting up the garage due to the notoriety of the place.
Nevertheless thanks to being really good at work things took off pretty quickly and soon he was prospering. In it’s hey days the garage employed 30-35 people while today it has about 12 employees. When work was at peak there were six boys to do just servicing jobs, he says. Today he is lucky if one boy turns up for work.
Shortage of labour is a major reason why older garages have shut down, say Hameed. Further the young boys who currently come in for work are extremely casual about things which is very discouraging to a conscientious garage owner, says Hameed. He himself learnt on the job and could repair all types of car.
The launching of Maruti car in 1983 opened the floodgate to the automobile industry in India and thanks to boom in car ownerships garages sprung up everywhere, says Hameed. He is thankful to Maruti for that and points out that he was one of the first in Goa to book the car and get it at price of Rs 55,000.
Hameed himself drives a Maruti Wagon R as he considers it best for city driving. He services his car himself and apart from the first four free servicing advises vehicle owners against getting annual servicing or maintenance done from company service station. The company servicing centre charges a bomb and an ordinary repair job which cost about Rs 2000 in a private garage will cost Rs 7,000 in the dealership, he says.
Four-wheelers are not the only vehicles the garage repairs. It can do scooters, bikes, trucks, buses and all vehicles. Despite being self taught, Hameed is points out that his expertise is top-notch and discloses that when the AIR transmission tower was set up in Altinho he was called in for installation and setting up of the tower. He has government commendation letter as proof for the job which have been preserved till date.
A good vehicle repairer, points out Hameed must have a liking for mechanics but current crop of repairers have no natural affinity for tinkering with engines, he bemoans.
Hameed is originally from Trivandrum, Kerala and continues to stick to his Kerala roots despite residing in Mumbai and now Goa for many years. His two sons- Shahnawaz and Shibili (after whom the garage is named) help around in running the business although they do not have the skills for repairing or other works.
His garage, says Hameed is a lot toned down in business volumes compared to it’s hey days. The peak phase ended about a decade back however even though the quantity to work now is lot lesser it is enough for the garage to be economically viable. The sales turnover of the garage is Rs two lakh per month from which expenses are deducted for labour, power, water, raw material and taxes. His is a tax paying garage, says Hameed.