- The four-wheel tuk tuk uses a 200cc petrol motor cycle engine with a speed of 80 kilometres per hour.
- The vehicle will come in three models — a pickup with a capacity to carry 800 kilos, a seven-sitter passenger vehicle and a saloon car.
When I heard Samuel Njogu’s story, I immediately dismissed him as a day dreamer.
How could he think of making a car? Where would he get the materials and, worse, the money? Where would he sell it, given that Kenya imports all its vehicles?
For somebody who does not even have secondary school education, how would he manufacture an automobile with all the expertise and knowledge required to pull through a venture similar to one that a local university once tried and failed miserably?
These and many more sceptical questions ring in my mind when I meet Njogu in his workshop in Nyahururu.
And as he sets out to feed my curiosity, I discover that Njogu’s story is a lesson in resilience, inspiration and sheer determination in pursuit of one’s dreams.
His dalliance with machines started in 1996 when he bought an old Land Rover for ferrying farm produce to the market.
But after only eight months, it was grounded. With the rising cost of fuel, he could not sustain the business.
He then turned to the Jua Kali sector and started making sufurias using scrap metal as raw material, earning an average of Sh20,000 per month. Smelting and turning metal into utensils was quite challenging. He had to move on.
He recalled that at one time he had made a motorcycle and the thought of designing a car struck him.
To the amazement of his friends, who thought he was running mad, in 2003 he made a rickety four-wheeler tuk tuk using a motorcycle engine and scrap metal, and used it to carry potatoes and carrots to the local markets.
“Every now and then I would get into trouble with traffic police officers. But they did not arrest me, only finding it funny. But they warned it was illegal to drive the tuk tuk on the road,” he chuckles with laughter.
“One day, one officer teased me that if I wanted to make money I should make one that would carry passengers. I took him seriously and laid down plans on how to actualise my dream.”