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Backyard radio technicians find the going tough

This name would vary depending on the person’s age, with either Mukoma Maradio or Mudhara Maradio being used and they were the toast of any neighbourhood, rural or urban.

In those days, an assortment of radios, televisions and video players ranging from ZECs, JVCs, Chesterfields, WRSs and Supersonic would be pilling at their homes as customers queued to have them repaired.

You had to pay in advance for your product to be repaired and the situation was even worse during the festive season when every household would want to get into the festive mood.

These guys would not force you to pay in advance, but they had their own way of making one fork out money before service.

They were notorious for clandestinely removing parts from some gadgets to repair those that would have been paid for in advance.

“Your TB (a popular part with these guys those days) is no longer functioning my brother.

“You have to buy another one, but you are lucky that I have a new one here so I can use it on your radio. You will have to pay for that one and the service as well,” they would tell you.

It was always either TB or power supply and censors that would require the attention of these people. They were also the ladies’ men and would be caught on the wrong side more often than not.

However, with the passage of time, these self-made technicians are getting irrelevant by the day.

The proliferation of cheap products from China and the coming in of new technology has threatened this profession.

Most people now prefer to buy a new product to repairing a commodity, as remarked one Mukoma Maradio of Kuwadzana.

“Business has extremely gone down compared to previous years. On a good day we can repair about two radios or TVs and the returns are paltry.
“The prices vary depending on what needs to be repaired,” remarked Augustine Muparati of Kuwadzana.

“These days people no longer play audio cassettes and that means that we no longer have to repair those items.

“They now use USB flash drives which we do not repair. This is also the same case with car radios.

“The Chinese brands that are coming up on the market are not making our life easier as well as they are not easy to repair.

“You repair it today and tomorrow you see the customer coming back with the same problem,” he said.

His sentiments were echoed by one, who preferred to be called Major, who operates from his home in Kuwadzana 5.

“Over the years, you would know that come Christmas time you would make a killing. These days we are going out of business by every hour as people no longer repair their items.

“The few that are still coming are taking long to collect their products as they now prefer buying new ones.

Besides, who needs a radio when one can listen to any station on their phones?

However, the radio repairers are not the only ones to have been hit by the winds of change as cellphone repairers have also felt the pinch.
Not long ago in the city centre you would see signs written “Cellphone repairs” but this has now become a thing of the past as phones have become cheaper.

With the passage of time, and as technology continues to take its grip, which profession will be the next victim? Time, the magician, will tell.

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