By Staff Writer
The epitaph of Double M Express Connection is already being written as the commuter passenger bus company is faced with an uncertain future. Pundits-including roadside commentators- have blamed poor management for the sad state of affairs, reports that have been rubbished by one of the founders. For beginners, ‘Double M’ was founded by the late Mwangi Mugo and his wife Mary Mwangi in 1979, then specializing in Matatu fabrication.
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Ms Mary Mwangi was born in 1961. She turned 60 this year (read 2021).
The businesswoman is a mother of five and has an adopted child. Her first born child is actively involved in the family business as a brand manager. The other two sons are Information Technology graduates while her daughter pursued Aeronautical Engineering at the university. Information on the courses her last born daughter and adopted daughter pursued were not available by the time of publishing this article.
Entry Into Passenger Business
Express Connection, the company that owns Double M, started passenger transport business in 1986. The bus company was a breath of fresh air in a sector dominated by the ill-mannered ‘Manyanga culture’. The staff looked and acted professional in their blue shirts (for conductors), black ties, black sweater vests and black trousers and while the drivers donned purple shirts. Double M did not play music as is the norm ‘Nganyas’ and standing passengers, preachers and hawkers were not allowed on-board. Passengers were also issued with tickets. All this happened before the ‘Michuki rules’ took effect.
By 2010, the Express Connection had a fleet of over 105 buses. The company had a total of 250 employees, 25 being women.
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Mrs Mary Mwangi worked at the National Hospital Insurance Fund as an accounts clerk. She called it quits to concentrate on what was at one point the best managed commuter bus company in Kenya. In an interview with the Standard, Mrs Mwangi said she was-
“……..fully involved in the business from the start and worked tirelessly to make it work.”
She told the publication that men found it odd when she was manning a stage at night.
“At the time, however, some men saw it as queer for a woman to be out there manning a stage even at night.”
The managing director of Express Management took full management of the company when her husband passed away in 2011.
Mrs Mwangi is a tough businesswoman who has been in the transport industry for four decades. She understands the business and this was one of the reasons she wanted to be a lawmaker. Speaking to the Daily Nation, the Express Connection MD said of her political ambitions:
“What I have been doing (bus transport) has had no representation at all, and that is why we go from bad to worse in the industry..”
She ran for the Embakasi East parliamentary seat in 2013 and 2017 and lost in both attempts. Reports emerged that a lot of money had gone to the campaigns to the detriment of the business.
She poured cold water claims saying that this was not the first time she was vying for a political seat.
“What people don’t know is that even when my husband was alive, I vied for a position in Gachoka constituency. I feel like people are insensitive,” she told Sunday Nation reporter Elvis Ondieki.
Buses Not Affected By Impending Auction
The Express Connection MD cleared the air on reports made on a section of the media that Double M buses are set to be auctioned saying that buses were not part of the collateral. The company had attached its 4.37 acres property has collateral instead.
Hotel Business In Honor of Husband
A bank loan to finance the construction of a four storey 80 room hotel in honor of her late husband has come to haunt Mrs Mwangi. But her problem was not with the bank per se but the contractor ‘Easy Properties’ who did shoddy work that rendered the hotel that was to be christened Sir John unusable. An arbitrator ruled in favor of Mrs Mwangi after concluding the agreement was breached and the contractor was asked to refund Sh216.2 million plus interest which was to be paid in three batches of sh168 million, 10.2 million and the final batch of kesSh38 million
The property was to be transferred back to Easy Properties once they had made the final payment to Mrs Mwangi. This decision did not go down well with Easy Property who challenged the verdict at the High Court.
Justice John Mativo said in his judgement that the award issued by Gichuhi was in order.
Part of his ruling read:
The final award delivered by the Hon Arbitrator, Advocate Allen Waiyaki Gichuhi, be and is hereby recognised and adopted as a judgment of this court,” Part of his ruling read.
As court battle rages on, the bank has run out of patience and is going after Express Connection 4.37 acres property to recover its money. In an advertisement running on the local dailies, the bank through Philips International Auctioneers placed a notice that read:
“Erected on the land parcel are two office blocks, a go-down used as a garage, a cafeteria building, an ablution block, a generator house and a sentry, two containers … part of the property constitutes a petrol station……. “Auction is on Tuesday October 5 at our offices along Kandara Road.”