My repaired car could soon be my cash cow

Sunday December 2 2018

This is not the SGR you are repairing. You can’t ask for 21k!”I told Ali the mechanic. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH

This is not the SGR you are repairing. You can’t ask for 21k!”I told Ali the mechanic. ILLUSTRATION| JOHN NYAGAH 

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When I took over my motorcycle from Nyayo, I wanted to understand how the business is run, and directly make money from customers without being conned by him.

Little did I now that in a matter of weeks, I would be a major player in the transport industry in this area.

It started two weeks ago when Nyayo came to me with an idea. He first asked me how much money I make per day from the boda boda business. I declined to tell him.

“Sawa, sio lazima uniambie,” he answered. “But just imagine, how much would you make if you carried five people and above plus the luggage instead of just one that you can carry now?”

“But boda boda can only carry one passenger at a time,” I retorted.

“Yes, you are right,” he said. “But you have a car, Dre; you are sitting on a gold mine, my friend.”


I reminded him that the car broke down and would need some money to repair it. “And how will you raise money to repair it, Dre? You must do business with it, you can’t just let a gold mine sit there at your home. A car is not furniture.”

He went on when I prodded him further: “This is December, Dre. People are going for weddings, funerals, dowry negotiations, etc in faraway places that will need transport.”

“Hi gari yako ukianza car hire, there is no day you will lack work, I tell you,” he added.

I reminded him that the car could not carry many people, that such people taking car hire would prefer a van, not an old rickety car.”

“I know,” he said. “But due to Matiang’i rules, most vans are not on the road, so you will be the only one and you will make money. And if you think that car is small, utashangaa; and you can always make two trips, I did that many times when I was Maina’s driver.”

“But police will arrest us if we don’t follow Matiang’i rules,” I told him, dismissing his proposal.

He told me that Matiang’i rules apply only to commercial vehicles. “Yours is a private car, but what is important is the route you use and how you talk to the police, and I will assist you there.”

After fully reviewing this, I realised that I could make some money from the car, even if it would be just enough to repair the car and have it mobile again. I immediately called Ali, my mechanic, who also constructed my house, and told him to assess the car.

“Kwanza gari inahitaji service,” he said. “Then it has oil leak, and needs the carburettor and thyroid glands replaced.” Or something like that. I could not tell the difference from one car part to another, so I told him to stop the details and just tell me the amount of money needed.

“Sh 21,000, plus labour,” he said.

“Mkubwa hii sio ndege,” I said. “This is not SGR you are repairing. You can’t ask for 21k!”

I haggled with him for long and we settled on Sh13,000, after he agreed to buy second hand spare parts,. “Ni kama nakufanyia tu bure, pesa yote inaenda kwa parts,” he shook his head.

He also agreed to take the money in instalments. I started by giving him Sh 4,000. Last Monday, he drove the car from my place to his garage. Although I had been unable to drive the car myself, he used some complicated tricks to drive it.

“You will have the car by Sunday, if all goes well,” he said.


Since then, every day, I have been passing by there to review progress. Inasmuch as I understood nothing, it was important to supervise the work. But he took the opportunity to convince me to give him more money. “Unaona hatuna kazi? Leta pesa kidogo tununue carburettor tuanze kuweka.” I added him Sh3,500 that I borrowed from a menu I have on my phone

“Hizi shocks zako, na brake pads pia hazitakaa,” he said, although he gave them three months. There were many other things he wanted replaced but I dismissed him.

News that I was repairing my car in preparation for the busy Christmas season spread far and wide. I started receiving transport orders. Rasto came to book the car for Jamhuri Day.

“We will be visiting my daughter who is married in Busia,” he said. “Ametuma pesa ya transport”

Mr Juma, Madam Ruth’s husband, also came to me to say that his father-in-law had passed away and would be buried next Friday. “Nimebook gari yako,” he said, adding that he had looked around for vehicles and could not get any. “Don’t let me down, Dre,” he said and even paid me some deposit. I dismissed other people who also came asking for free transport on different dates.

Ladies and gentlemen, friends and enemies, I can’t wait for the car to be ready so that I start raking in money!