Wednesday, March 12, 2014

All for a little hot water...

It has been a while since I've been so exasperated with the Ugandan way of doing things but today has pushed me to post I'm so frustrated.
Let me vent explain.  Almost a month ago I moved into my new house. I had extended conversations with the landlord to get a contract that we could both agree on. Mostly about how I wanted to be responsible for significant repairs and then I would subtract the cost from my quarterly rent. This is pretty status quo here because the Ugandan landlord rarely has the upfront money to do anything. After the problem occurs they have to save for months before any work can be done. But my landlord doesn't want to do that. He insisted that he could take care of problems in good time and he didn't want our contract to say I could ever deduct anything from my rent. Well, finally, after getting him to insist that very little time would pass until repair, I gave in and the contract was signed. Then, that very day, before I even moved in, I reminded him the hot water heater was broken and needed to be replaced. It needed to be ordered from Kampala so he said he would get right on it and call me when it arrived to be installed. Two weeks past and finally I called him again. He said, as though we had never even mentioned this very topic, "actually I don't have the money right now".  I offered to order it and then give him the receipt for reimbursement. I know that I will actually never get cash from him and will just deduct it from my rent next month. And actually, none of this surprised or frustrated me.  But he asked that he hire the electrician to install it as he can negotiate a better price. Which he can. Also, it was his responsibility to get the heater from the bus-park so it seemed like he would take care of all of that. This week Monday morning I got a phone call that it was all arranged and he would be at my house in an hour. I had no idea he'd gotten the heater, and wasn't even at home. So I told him he had to wait until I had a few free hours so it was going to be Wednesday.  He got all annoyed with  me and reminded me that I wanted stuff done promptly. I bit my tongue from replying that the house has had no hot water heater for 4 weeks so the "promptly ship" has already sailed and he could chill until I could make a few hours in my schedule.
This morning the electrician arrived with the heater and notified me that I actually needed a plumber. He wouldn't remove the old one or hang the new one (water heaters go up on the wall in the bathroom here). That was the plumber's job. So I called the landlord and he told me he was at work and couldn't arrange a plumber now. So I did it. While waiting for the plumber, the electrician decided he had other things to do so he started to leave. I asked him who was going to hold the tank up while the plumber attached it to the wall and he told me under no uncertain terms that I was going to have to do it as it was not his job. Turns out his job was to go get drunk but I'll get to that shortly.So the plumber arrived and accidentally forgot to turn the water off before loosening the input pipe. So now there is 4 inches of water on my bathroom floor and muddy footprints from one end of the house to the other. (Due to the dry season dust, feet are always covered in a layer of dirt).  To make it worse, I kid you not, after he unscrewed the pipes from the bottom of the tank, he told me to call an electrician to unhook the wires because he couldn't do anymore until it was unattached. I'm proud to say I didn't scream. I politely called the electrician back by implying that the plumber was actually done (when really he hadn't actually begun).  While waiting for him to arrive, the plumber kicked back and relaxed and fell asleep on my couch. After what seemed like forever, but was really only maybe an hour and a half, the now intoxicated electrician came back. How can one get drunk that fast?! Besides, it is not yet 1pm!
This is the tank neither plumbed nor  wired. But attached to the wall (which was my job). 
But, the after a conversation in Ateso between the plumber and electrician, the tank was disconnected and removed from the wall. I went and turned the power off for him. I didn't want a dead electrician on my hands. Then, after opening the box of the new one (which I think could have been done earlier but was preempted by a nap in my living room) it was discovered that there were no fittings. So another conversation in Ateso between the plumber and electrician and it seems that the electrician simply taught the plumber how to rewire it then left. Which I'm fine with. Then the plumber went into town to get the lacking parts. They are back now and I'm just sitting here trying not to think about all the other things I was going to do today. This project started at 8:00 am and is still going strong.  And the Ugandan's think there is nothing wrong with any of this.
Atleast I'll have a hot shower tonight. I hope.

1 comment:

Monica Ryan said...

This was quite an experience for you. And I hope after all the things that happened and the conversation you had, you were able to have a hot shower at the end of the day. How is it now?

Monica, Village Plumbing & Home Services