Court ends ‘war buses’ wrangle
Nobody suspected that naming the elongated tour vehicles ‘war buses,’ would eventually result into the vehicles becoming a serious cause for a war fought along legal corridors.
People who live in either Arusha or Kilimanjaro know that the highly customized and body-extended Four-Wheel Drive vehicles that normally take tourists into National Parks are called ‘War Buses,’ though the reason behind such strange christening is still unclear.
Essentially a ‘war bus’ could be a Land-Cruiser, Land-Rover or Nissan (Safari) 4WD truck, which as soon as it lands in Tanzania is taken into special workshops where the vehicle’s body is extended to accommodate more seats as well as add-ons such as roof hatch, baggage racks and water coolers all meant to make those rough journeys into the wild more bearable.
But, now the so-called ‘war buses’ recently became a source of legal wrangle when a lawsuit was filed in court by a Moshi-based company fighting to maintain monopoly as far as the customization of the tourist trucks are concerned.
The Commercial Division of the High Court in Tanzania through Justice R.V Makaramba recently brought the legal battle to an end by ruling out that no single firm in the country reserves the right to construct the extended bodies of the so-called war buses.
The Arusha-based Hanspaul Automechs Limited (HAL) the defendant company represented by advocates, Salim Mushi and Hussein Mlinga won the case in which the RSA Limited which operates from Moshi, had filed to try and stop the former from designing the customized tour trucks, claiming to have patented the designs.
Both Hanspaul Automechs of Arusha and RSA Limited of Moshi have been building the ‘war buses’ for years. Sunny Safaris of Arusha and Rajinder Motors of Moshi have also been producing the elongated tour vehicles.
Represented by advocates Beatus Malima and Joseph Nuamanya RSA Limited, filed a suit against HansPaul Automechs, claiming the latter had infringed the former’s copyright on its various models of tourist vehicles.
In the Commercial Case Number 104 of 2014 RSA the Moshi-based 4WD body builder and accessories company accused Hanspaul Automechs (HAL) Limited of infringing its Toyota (Land Cruiser) and Nissan designs.
The contested designs include those of Hanspaul Land Cruiser 7-SX, 5-SRX and 5-SX as well as Nissan 7-SX, 5-SRX and Y-61 of which RSA wanted to be paid US $ 1.7 million in damages for the alleged overstepping on the design patents.
Hanspaul wrote a statement of defence and according to the firm’s attorney, Mr Mushi, HAL so far reserves the official permit from Toyota Motors of Japan to customize the Toyota Series 70 trucks into the elongated tour vehicles and still maintain the warranty.
The elongated construction of customized bodies on mostly Four-Wheel Drive trucks are popular for ferrying tourists and other visitors to various National and Game Parks.
‘War Bus’ constructions are essentially designed to comfortably carry tourists, their luggage, and equipment while still leaving ample room for things like refrigerators, phone or computer chargers and roof hatches for viewing animals or filming.
Originating from Tanzania, precisely the Northern Regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro, the ‘War Bus’ designs have since been copied by other countries including Kenya and South-Africa and have already been regarded an important part of travel industry being ‘attractions’ on their own right.
The tough vehicles, whose frontal facades are usually reinforced with strong bull-bars that also support mechanical winches earned the name ‘war bus’ from the tour drivers and guides.
There are those who claim that the trucks being rugged, strong and designed for the wilderness would turn out to be quite menacing once they enter the city where motorists driving ordinary cars get intimidated by them in streets thus winning the name ‘War Bus.’
Other are fn view that, since venturing into the wild is sometimes regarded as battle for survival thus the title ‘War Bus.’