Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Datsun Trucks of Minahasa Indonesia

by Charles Roring in Manokwari of West Papua - Indonesia
Minahasa, a beautiful regency in North Sulawesi, is not only famous for its Bunaken National Marine Park that is visited by a lot of scuba divers, but also for its agricultural region. The beauty of Minahasa's coral reef is balanced by the beauty of its farmlands, mountains, valleys and mountainous villages. Many people in Minahasa work as farmers. They grow rice, corn, peanuts, vegetables, clove, coconuts and many other plants that have high economic values in the market. To transport these agricultural commodities the Minahasan farmers use small trucks that can enter narrow roads leading to their gardens so that they can bring the produce to their houses or markets.

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One of the types that is famous in Minahasa is Datsun. This is the type of truck that has served the Minahasan farmers since 1970s. In the past, a Datsun equaled to two or three sacks of clove. Now, the price of the clove is not high. Minahasan farmers cannot easily buy small trucks anymore. 
Datsun trucks are sturdy and robust. They do not have complicated instruments on their dashboard. Farmers like their simple design. Nissan Motor was the Japanese company that manufactured Datsun. This brand was discontinued in 1986. No new types of Datsuns have been released until now. In addition, the spare parts for these trucks are getting fewer. To keep them roaming the roads and streets of Minahasa, mechanics must apply "cannibalism." The parts of Datsuns that cannot be repaired anymore are dismantled and sold to other Datsun owners.

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I often see that farmers who own a Datsun is very proud of his car because it is not only seen as a transport car but an antique one. A reconditioned Datsun can still be sold in higher price in Minahasa and run on the streets and roads of this beautiful mountainous region for the next one or two decades. Recently the company announced that it will relaunch Datsun cars as a low cost vehicle to Indonesian, India, South Africa and Russian markets. Farmers in Minahasa will be glad to buy Datsun pick up trucks again if they are affordable and reliable as their old brothers.