Interior Styling

All interior surfaces can be replaced, Leather is a popular option, but there are other types of fabric including Fur for those brave ones amongst you. Sit down and carefully plan what you are going to do, take a look at show cars to get some ideas of what to do. Keep the overall theme of the car – the interior should match the exterior theme. A motorsport style exterior would not go very well with a luxury interior and the converse is also true, a motorsport interior would look out of place on a luxury car. A wide variety of gauge styles are available from chrome and polished housing to carbon fibre and even complete digital dashboards which look fantastic at night look the business. Even aircraft style heads up displays projected onto the windscreen are possible.

Adding dials and gauges can actually add function as well as form, allowing you to monitor engine oil pressure, temperature, boost, economy, voltages etc… Be sure to only add the dials you will use – less is definitely more otherwise your interior will end up looking like the inside of a 1980′s space ship in a B grade movie.

Complement the dashboard dials and plastic makeover with a new sporty steering wheel, gear knob and pedals. Drilled aluminum pedals go with most car interiors but again all types are available and choosing pedals with a wider footprint opens up the possibility of heel and toe gear changes to most car types (and foot sizes).

The standard dials can usually be replaced easily by removing the instrument panel and overlaying a pre-printed panel. White backgrounds are popular and these have the added advantage of being easily seen at night. Strangely when the dash illumination turns on at night the numbers will glow and the white background will go dark, at least that was the effect in my Corolla. Companies sell complete instrument binnacles, or kits to convert the standard one. Most will require some disassembly of the dashboard to install.

Seats come in all shapes and sizes. Beware of light colours as these can be very difficult to keep clean (although they do look fantastic. It is beneficial to choose similar colours and materials to the other surfaces in your car so bear this in mind when planning the car interior. Retro looks tend to last much longer than modern quirky looks but will not be as revolutionary.

STEERING WHEEL

Fitting an aftermarket steering wheel adds class.

The most used control in the car is the steering wheel (we hope!). Why not upgrade this essential component and go with something more visually appealing. Is this an easy job and what pitfalls are there in fitting an aftermarket steering wheel

Looking for inspiration many aftermarket steering wheel makers look to the world of Motorsports for inspiration. Motorsport wheels are bare, and usually made from metal and plastic. Some have information displays in them and other have a flat base.

You can choose between a 1,2,3 or 4 spoke style, there are steering wheels with flat bottoms, square steering wheels and aircraft style open steering wheels. There is also a wide variety of colours and materials available with leather, carbon fibre and brushed steel becoming the popular choices. But which are the best choice? What problems are encountered with custom steering wheels and are they difficult to fit?

Generally speaking, aftermarket steering wheels are smaller in size than standard wheels and this can affect the control you have over the car particularly if you do not have power steering. Simple rules of leverage apply here and this is why older cars without power steering have such large steering wheels. You should also aim to get a wheel with a central hub that is wider than your steering column.

Steering wheel covers can make a dull wheel look more sporty but most implementations We have seen look really tacky. There are some good quality leather covers which require stitching.

The steering wheel is the most used control in your car, so get one you just can’t keep your hands off.

Safety – many steering wheels are attached in the centre with metal rivets or nuts. In a crash these will cause nasty cuts and puncture wounds unless they are recessed deep within the housing. The force of your head rushing forward will not usually be stopped by the plastic surround and you will make contact with the metal nut. Cars with air bags will usually need the air bag removing, and this can cause a warning light to appear in the dashboard. If you are in doubt consult an auto electrician and your cars maintenance handbook.

Car horns can also be a problem. In some car models the horn is on a separate stalk but with most modern cars a button within the steering wheel operates the horn. When buying a new steering wheel you will need to check if it has a horn built in and if it comes with suitable wiring. As a horn is just a couple of simple contacts it should not present much of a wiring challenge.

A wheel with a flat bottom imitates formula one wheels which need to allow the driver as much leg room as possible. There is no real practical reason to have a flat bottomed steering wheel in a car other than the fact it looks cool

Steering wheels with digital readouts such as mph, rpm, oil pressure, fuel look very nice but there are some drawbacks. They cost a fortune and they can be a real challenge to wire up as they need to be connected to various senders around the car. You are better off getting some gauges and having these fitted to the car instead.

Most steering wheels come as a kit with an adapter ring to allow it to fit your car. Ask for this at the time of your purchase. As you can see , there is a massive selection of styles to choose from. So decide in advance what theme you are going with and look for the right steering rather than just buying the first on you see.

We also suggest an easier route to upgrade your steering wheel and retain your air bag. Get a steering wheel from a performance model of car from your manufacturer as these are usually a straight swap. They are nice and chunky and still use an airbag. There are usually many examples and suitable donors in breakers yards around the country. You have the reassurance of knowing that they will fit and be compatible.

Race and motorsport cars have a quick steering rack (one which goes from full left lock to full right lock in 2-3 turns, whereas most cars will take 4-5 turns of the wheel). A motorsport wheel is usually marked to show the top in a contrasting colour to help the driver reflexively get the correct amount of lock on the wheel as the margin for error is much reduced.

Retail Property Managers – Minimise Vacant Space in Your Retail Tenant Mix

When you own or manage a retail shopping centre, one of the last things you want to have is an abundance of vacant space. The only reason for having or creating excessive vacant space is when you are about to undertake a refurbishment or renovation programme within the property.

One of the byproducts of the pressures from this current global economy is disruption to retail trade and sales. This means that the average retail shopping centre and the individual tenants are suffering pressure from decreasing sales. If you do not watch this carefully you can finish up with vacancies in the property.

One of the wisest strategies for landlords and property managers to adopt with vacancy management is to create a tenant optimisation and vacancy reduction plan. Here are some ideas for reducing or handling vacant space within a shopping centre as part of that planning process:

  1. When you lease tenancy space to a new tenant, make sure that the lease expiry does not coincide with other premises in the same general location. Even though it may be a few years before any lease is to expire, you have to think in advance and plan the process of lease termination.
  2. Try to negotiate lease options with the sitting tenants well in advance. On that basis you will be solving the vacancy problem before it occurs. If on the other hand the tenant is vacating regardless, then early involvement still gives you plenty of time to find another tenant.
  3. Keep in close contact with the other tenants in the building and the tenancy mix so that any matters of expansion or relocation can be merged into the lease expiry program and expected future vacant tenancies.
  4. Run a business plan for the property that is forward looking for at least a period of two years. All the lease expiries and other lease options in the tenant mix can be monitored through that process.
  5. When a vacancy is to occur and all other new tenant solutions have been exhausted, it is worthwhile approaching the other tenants in the building to see if they would like to extend their displays or take over a low cost short term occupancy in the vacancy to sell their goods. It is in their interests to help the property to appear fully occupied.
  6. Any vacant tenancy has to be well-presented and appropriately used so that the customer feels that the property is still successful. Negative customer and tenant sentiment will soon develop if dark and dingy areas of trade develop around the vacant spaces. Make sure that lighting and advertising material continue the retail experience even though there may be a vacant tenancy nearby.

The normal retail property management process is to reduce or minimise the threat of vacancy for the landlord and optimise the trade of the shopping centre for the tenants. On that basis the rental profile for the building is maintained and property performance is optimised.

Youth Crime Reduction Through Enterprise Development

In 2008 alone, the country lost $20.7 billion in oil profits due to militant violence in the oil-rich but volatile Niger Delta region1. A Presidential Technical Committee report to the Nigerian government attributed the fiscal loss to armed militant activity on oil installations that resulted in shutdowns and spillages. The conflict has significantly hamstrung oil exports – the country’s prime revenue earner – from 2.6 million barrels in 2006 to a current figure of just 1.78 million barrels. The human component of this economic tragedy is even more appalling: at least 1,000 lives lost and an additional 300, including 44 foreign oil workers and businessmen, taken hostage.

The Nigerian government considers four of the nine states in the delta region as conflict zones, and foreigner travel to these locations is strictly restricted. The 70,000 square km area, a mainstay of the country’s economy, accounts for 85% of state revenue2. Armed insurgency in the region traces its roots to a perceived sense of neglect by both oil companies and the national government, a sentiment that is corroborated by empirical evidence. Despite its strategic and economic significance, human development indices for the Niger Delta region are starkly behind national averages. Further, the pollution resulting from oil and gas prospecting have decimated indigenous sources of livelihood like fishing, and brought home disease, malnutrition and high fatality rates, besides serious environmental repercussions.

The localize symptoms in Niger Delta are however only part of the problem. Poverty remains endemic despite the billions flowing into the national coffers. Successive government policies in the last century failed to include the wide majority of Nigerians; 76 million of whom are officially classified below the poverty line, while an astounding 35% of the population continues to live in abject poverty3.

Poverty however exacts an inevitable social toll, and for an impoverished people, crime is often an easy step from deprivation. Although reliable independent data is hard to come by, Nigeria has a massive unemployment rate that adds thousands of new graduates to its list of jobless each year. The country’s prominent ‘This Day’ newspaper reports in a September 2007 story that Nigerian youths constitute half the population, 95% of which is unemployed4. By the government’s own admission, over 70% of the population was unemployed that year. The figure has since been slashed to just below 29% to coincide with recent independent World Bank findings. Even at this rate however, over 40 million Nigerians are currently jobless. Significantly, policy changes effected after 1999 have done little to assuage the situation, largely because of a misplaced focus on capital-intensive ventures that generated few employment opportunities. The situation was made worse by acute infrastructural shortages, forcing hundreds of factories and informal sector industries to lay-off workers.

Consequently, youth crime has steadily been on the rise, fed by decades of under-investment in the social sector, together with deficient poverty-alleviation and ineffective unemployment-reduction initiatives. Over the years, billions in annual oil revenue pouring in to the country hiked the bar of its economic and social aspirations, resulting in a climate of criminal proclivity.

For a nation with millions of jobless youths, the gross outcome has been a surge in violent crime by individuals and gangs, including frequent muggings, assault, burglary, carjacking, extortion and kidnapping. Fraud is an especially huge criminal sub-sector here. In fact the US State Department specifically warns Nigeria-bound travellers to be wary of innovative scams hatched over the Internet that pose the risk of both financial loss and personal danger.

Over many years of political and social turmoil, the accumulation of small crimes has transformed Nigeria into an established transit point on drug routes headed for European and North America. Due to its strategic location, the country has also emerged as a centre of massive economic corruption and criminal activity. Since 1999 however, a climate of renewed collaboration with international law-enforcement agencies has resulted in substantial crackdowns on syndicated criminal activities across the country. A notable achievement in this regard has been a national initiative against drug money laundering, which resulted in Nigeria’s removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s list of non-cooperative countries in 2006. However, the country’s commitment to fighting economic crimes continues to be monitored.

The mix of poverty, inflation and unemployment in Nigeria has created a situation where opportunities for gainful employment are scarce, and criminality is often a means for survival. The same holds true for large parts of sub-Saharan Africa where legitimate opportunities are shrinking. Across Nigeria, the highest incidence is of property crimes, relating to survival – burglary, armed robbery, cheating etc. Inherent flaws in the criminal justice system only add to the problem. Tackling law and order is especially difficult due to the existence of a triple criminal justice system, which includes a Criminal Code, a Penal Code (based on Islamic edicts) and Customary Law, some of which are informal and unwritten.

Youth crime is currently one of the biggest hurdles on Nigeria’s road to accelerated economic development. One of the government’s core priorities, in the context of long-term developmental goals, remains the mobilization of its substantial youth population to lead an enterprise revolution. Nigeria’s emerging leadership has in principle at least awakened to the urgency of implementing fundamental initiatives concerning the creation of new jobs for sustainable and inclusive growth. For Nigeria, entrepreneurship development is a social as well as an economic imperative. The following aspects require critical consideration as part of any concerted government effort in this regard:

* In the contest of Nigeria’s troubled past, maintaining political stability and authority of democratic institutions are critical to the success of any worthwhile youth revival initiative.

* Improvement in per capita income, standard of living and related human development indices through implementation of informed social and economic policy changes.

* Effective poverty alleviation programs that focus on enterprise development as a viable means to legitimate prosperity. Mobilization of the youth workforce to promote rapid entrepreneurial development in rural and urban areas alike.

* Massive overhaul of the education system to correctly address local realities. Focus on vocational and skill development programs that translate to practical job opportunities.

* Rehabilitation programs for Niger Delta militants and other criminal elements that focus on equipping them with practical skills and leveraging their economic potential.

For a country beset by a bewildering array of problems, piece-meal measures can hardly be effective in the long run. Hopefully, Nigeria has at least started taking positive steps.

In June this year, the government of President UM Yar’Adua announced a declaration of amnesty for militants in the Niger Delta region. The proclamation acknowledges that militancy arose out of the state’s inability to meet the aspirations of the local population, and the need for sustainable development in the Delta states. It goes on to add that most of the militant are “able-bodied youths whose energies could be harnessed for the development of the Niger Delta and the nation at large5.”

As is the case with most seemingly intractable problems, the problem of Nigeria’s youth crime also contains its solution!