By Kuria Kimani
Public transport in Nairobi-and Kenya by extension-can best be described as chaotic and efforts by stakeholders to bring sanity in the industry has proved to be an uphill task. Attempts to correct this entrenched culture of impunity led to the introduction of ‘matatu SACCOs’ by the government but the impact has been at best minimal. But all is not lost.
The entry of Super Metro Company Limited eight years ago was a breath of fresh air as the SACCO has consistently maintained high standards with passengers safety and comfort made a priority.
How did the company change the otherwise reckless matatu industry in Kenya?
Management and Leadership
The company was founded in 2013 by Nelson Mwangi Nduki and 13 other directors. Mr Nelson, who has been the chairman of Super Metro Company Limited since its inception, is credited with the success story of the company.
Their aim was to do business and inject professionalism in an industry known for all kinds of vices. Citizen TV produced a documentary titled ‘GANGSTER Sacco|Unearthing rot in matatu industry’ in November 2018 that highlighted the impunity in the industry including the heightened crime that has taken root in most of the matatu SACCOs.
Chairman Nelson Mwangi’s Profile
He was born and raised in the Central region of Kenya. Nelson came from a humble family and to make it in life he had to work extra hard. After completing high school, his parents were unable to raise his university school fees despite doing extremely well in his Kenya Certificate of Secondary School (KCSE) examinations.
Mr. Mwangi then moved to Nairobi in search of employment. His experience was tough as nails as he had to do odd jobs to earn a living.
“I was brought up in a very poor family. Coming to Nairobi to look for a job was not easy and at one point I had to roast maize in Eastlands near Makadara law courts,” he told Kenyans.
Not one to despise humble beginnings, he took up a job offer as a lift attendant in a restaurant in the city. Slowly but certainly, he worked his way up the ranks through sheer hardwork and would ultimately become operations manager at the restaurant.
With the bills and responsibilities cast on his shoulders, Mr. Mwangi set up a side hustle that he did not know would be his golden egg. He bought a few matatus that he personally managed and as the business grew, he went fully in committing his resilience and hard work to the business.
Mr. Mwangi would later come together with thirteen other directors to set up Super Metro Company Limited with an aim ‘to do business and change the sanity of the industry’.
Staffing Regulations and Business Processes
It is indeed true that a company is its people. With the wrong staff or management, even the best companies fall to their knees as evidenced by the once high-riding Akamba Bus Company that fell due to a sibling’s incompetence. To prevent such an occurrence, the Super Metro Company Limited takes stringent measures in ensuring that they have the right people on the job.
Mr. Mwangi shared the process taken to recruit drivers and conductors to operate their mini-buses in a past interview, and it is possibly the most professionally-handled process on Kenyan roads. The constant process followed since inception is:
- Drivers and conductors make an application
- The application is accompanied with proof of the requirements such as a valid driving license, identification card, or passport, and where necessary, certifications stated.
- An interview before a panel interrogating the applicants
- Three-month probation to evaluate their performance
- If one passes all the stages, they are admitted into the team and required to abide by the rules and regulations set by management.
In case one of the employees goes against the rules such as instances where conductors overcharge customers, admit excess passengers, or where drivers overlap on the roads or drive under influence, the company takes stringent measures including expulsion.
The Rise and Success of the Company
Super Metro’s success is credited to the high quality of service offered and the high standards required of the drivers and conductors. The leadership of Nelson Mwangi’s team is also a key factor that led to its success. He says that God’s favor has placed him where he is today.
Routes and Fairs
The Super Metro buses operate the following routes with stage stops along the way:
Kikuyu Route 105
Juja 236 to Makongeni 237
Ngong to Nairobi CBD Route 111
The journeys are usually 30 minutes and more, and clients are charged a maximum of Ksh 80 for their transport.
With an active social media presence, The Super Metro Company engages its clientele on a daily basis. The company is rated a 4/5 by the reviews currently submitted on its Facebook page. What are clients saying about the service?
“Polite and neat crew, timekeeping and clean matatus” Cayte K Ngari
“Best of the best. Well organized and have customer interests at heart. Crew very friendly and great service..” Fa Vour
“very comfortable and charges fairly for every stop.” Moses Owino
“A good managed sacco with a serious eye for the great service.” Richard David Irungu
However, it has not been short of some criticism with clients saying:
“I’ve been a loyal customer but some of the conductors are behaving as if they are not human beings, so rude to customers na kushukisha mtu one stage before kwenye anaenda ati if not that atashuka tao… wanabooo” Kamungu Iso Mso
“They’re losing their class day by day. Especially the lot operating from juja have some very crude, rude and arrogant makangas. loud and dirty music on their screens. Just a let down to the supermetro that we’re used to.” Lydia Kimani
Growth and Introduction of New Buses
As 2021 comes to a close, the company introduced the exciting 2.0 Super Metro Buses long distance buses.
The buses powered by Scania were built by Master Fabricators Ltd Kenya, a company that won the ‘Best Bus and Coach Builder’ from 2009 to 2012.
The new buses are set to explore new routes come 2022 as shared in a Facebook post saying, “Routes expansion starting from next year loading soon. Countdown begins…We welcome all your suggestions and also on which areas you want us to improve on in serving you better because you are very important to us.”