By Prudence Minayo
Samuel Njogu is the innovative brain behind Kenya’s first locally assembled four-wheeler tuk tuk popularly known as BJ-20. Powered by a 150cc motorcycle engine, the tuk tuk retails for Ksh450,000. The BJ-50 can reach a top speed of 70km/h and can carry up to 7 passengers. The maximum luggage load is 800kg.
For his innovation, he has received support from various influential people including Laikipia governor Ndiritu Muriithi, Agriculture CS Peter Munya and Royal Media Services CEO Samuel Macharia.
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Age and Education
The inventor is 40-years-old. The innovator dropped out of school in class 8.
In 2013, with no job or money, he assembled a motorcycle from available parts and used it for boda boda business. He used the proceeds from the transport business to support his family.
The Business was a success and two years later, the thought to assemble a vehicle that would carry more passengers began to take root. Gathering different parts from scrap yards, he assembled his first BJ50 and used it to ferry passengers in Nyahururu.
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Joining Laikipia Innovative Program
Samuel joined the Laikipia Innovative Program in 2018 after meeting the county governor Mr. Ndiritu Muriithi. The program was aimed at training upcoming entrepreneurs.
The county government supported his project and he was introduced to engineers from Dedan Kimathi University.
In 2018, after the sixth annual devolution conference in Kirinyaga, the Laikipia county government showcased the first model of the four-wheeler tuk tuk, the BJ-50. In an article posted on Facebook by the county government on 5th July 2018, they said the inventor had received an order for at least 26 units from influential people. While this showed how innovative Kenyans can be, Kenyans on twitter couldn’t help but crack jokes on Samuel’s innovation and several memes were created. Nonetheless, the inventor was not discouraged.
Training From Dedan Kimathi Engineers
He received formal training from Dedan Kimathi engineers. Sagak Tech Automakers was later registered with the help of the county government and in 2019, a plan for mass production began.
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The cost of making one tuk tuk is Ksh 300,000. A businessman by the name Kimani Gakenia helped to register Sagak. The businessman said the cost of manufacture will be lowered once they get a local assembly license since the company will be exempted from paying income duty on items such as engines.
Licensing and New Pick-up
Registering the vehicles by Sagak Tech Automakers was no easy feat. It took months of correspondence and phone calls just to get approval from Kenya Bureau of Standard (KEBS) and registration by the National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA). This is because most of the laws on car registration are old and focus only on imported cars. At the time of making the laws, not many envisioned the possibility of Kenyans manufacturing their own cars.
An article by the county government on 23rd August 2021, announced that finally after nearly three years, the local manufacturer was given documents of title for the tuk tuks.
“The first batch of the tuk tuk from the assembly line in Nyahururu received their number plates and logbooks on 12th August 2021,” the county government wrote.
The county government also announced that Sagak had also unveiled a new pickup model. The pickup is said to be fuel efficient and has a capacity of carrying about 1 tonne.
“The pick-up is set to benefit the local transport industry for hardware, supermarkets, hotels and other merchants in the retail and wholesale trade,” said Mr. Njogu.