46-year-old Durojaiye Kehinde Obasanjo claims to have built a vehicle that can move on land, sea and in the air. He said the project has been completed, tested and found to be effective. He spoke to Daily Trust on his creation, which he says is the first of its kind.
What can you tell us about your invention?
I built this aero-amphibious car designed to move on land, sea and air. Out of three operations I am working on, I have achieved two. I flew it within the city over Third Mainland Bridge. It has been tested and it works perfectly with high stability in the air.
When did you start this project?
From childhood, precisely at age six. I built a vehicle that moved.
How did you develop it?
Consistent research and development made me to get to this level.
I have taken this car to Ibadan, Oyo State, Abeokuta and other states.
I planned to display it for President Muhammadu Buhari but unfortunately it has been destroyed by some hoodlums, some people who claim to be officials of Ikotun/Igando Local Government Council.
Why did they destroy it?
They don’t have any reason because when I met the chairman, he said he did not send them, that even where they destroyed the car was not within their jurisdiction. It was destroyed where I parked it in front of my house for exhibition. I intend to involve human rights activists and take legal action. I have informed the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State but he is yet to respond.
Are you going to repair the damaged one?
I am trying to do it again. The project attracted a lot of people from foreign countries. I have been making efforts to put it back but I cannot raise funds. I spent millions of naira in building it.
What is your area of specialisation vis-à-vis educational background?
I attended Zumuratul Islamiyyah Primary School, then Iganmu High School; then I proceeded to Lagos State University where I studied Electronics and Computer.
Does your university education have any influence on this project?
Though this thing came up out of natural talent, my educational background polished it.
What is the correlation between Electronics and Computer, and this project that has to do with Mechanical Engineering or Aeronautics?
This is not purely mechanical engineering; it is more of marine, aeronautics and automobile. We can now summarise everything as aero-amphibious. The course is split in universities in advanced countries.
How many years did you spend in building this vehicle?
I spent nothing less than one and half years to put the concept together to make it work perfectly. But now if I want to build another, I would complete it within two months.
What are some of the materials you used in building it?
I used aluminum, tarpaulin, black steel, rubber, plywood, brass, magnet, plastic and many local contents.
How do you fuel it?
This one uses petrol and solar alternatively. I believe the solar system is highly economical. The difference is that the petrol system is faster than the solar system.
How do you switch from petrol to solar?
There is an electrical engine responsible for solar energy while there is a locomotive engine for petrol.
What more can you tell us about your project?
The one I just built flies. I flew it two weeks ago.
How many passengers can it accommodate?
As it is now, it can contain four passengers plus the pilot. The interior looks small but four passengers can sit comfortably and the pilot. We can build the one that is wider than this.
There is nobody seeing an aeroplane flying that would not be thrilled unless that somebody does not know what it means to see a heavy object flying in the air or even floating on the sea. That motivated me to even go further.
Lagos is known for gridlocks, should we say this has also motivated you to come up with this concept?
I was born in Lagos Island around Idumota side, Ago Isofi. There is always traffic congestion in that place and it is a coastal area. So my thinking is for us to use the opportunity provided by the sea to decongest the traffic.
Have you made efforts to reach out to the Lagos State Government?
I sent a letter to Governor Akinwunmi Ambode and he responded that he had informed the Commissioner for Science and Technology to get in touch with me and do something. It is almost a year now and I have not heard anything from the commissioner. I also sent a letter to the former governor. He promised to get in touch with me but till he left, I didn’t get any response. I sent another letter to former President, Goodluck Jonathan, and recently I sent another one to President Muhammadu Buhari.
What is the kind of assistance you want from the federal and state governments?
They need to provide a research fund to enable us produce the ones that are more beautiful and presentable, that are widely accepted and would be well built with normal materials. Then, let Nigeria start mass producing it, we have structure on ground to do that. We have INNOSON, we have university research centres that can do that.
Have you contacted the universities whose primary responsibility is to carry out research?
I have tried to reach out to the University of Lagos. The university is located in a where this kind of project can be developed, it is very close to the sea but I am yet to get a response from them. Besides my research centre is very close to UNILAG. I expect them to have seen it, including the Federal Government. If it were in America, Germany, China, Japan, they would have contacted me.
You seem to have deep interest in research, like you said you spend most of your times in your workshop. Where is the workshop situated?
My workshop is located at the end of Community Road, opposite Lagoon Front, University of Lagos. It is only the waterfront that separates my workshop and UNILAG. The waterfront aided the development of the project.
What is your vision on this project?
I want Nigeria to be the first to mass produce it. Let us complete research work on this and make presentation to the world. That is what other countries are doing.