Raf Jah runs a hotel and dive centre on Pemba, a small Island off the coast of Tanzania. He uses a small fleet of Land Rovers to haul boats out of the water, for trips through mud and jungle to the nearest town (nine miles away), and as transport for birdwatching safaris.
His main problem is keeping the vehicles on the road, so to speak. There are no garages in Pemba, and no mechanics within 25 miles. Jonathan Layne from West Sussex leapt to the rescue by trading engineering and diagnostics skills in return for diving sessions. Jonathan Layne 4x4 is an independent specialist workshop near Horsham, tackling anything from expedition preparation to total rebuilds. Raf didn’t want to overload Jonathan, so he brought Mathias Lelo over from the mainland to lend a hand. Mathias is a street mechanic from Dar es Salaam with a wealth of experience of Land Rover repairing. He makes three times his normal daily income when he comes over to Pemba to assist and learn from Jonathan. Now, that has to be technology transfer with a profit.
Here we see Jonathan and Mathias working on Raf’s 109 2.25 petrol Series III. It started life in Sharjah some time in the ’70s and was imported in the 1980s to Pemba. It cost Raf twice as much to buy in 2004 than the original owner paid for it in the 1970s.
The 109 used to be called a Dala Dala, when it was used as a taxi-bus in Pemba; now it’s a general load carrier, and still working hard.
This owner review appeared in the June 2010 issue of LRO. Current and Back issues are available to download on digital devices here. Please note, we only hold stocks of the the last three back issues.