In April, 2014, reports surfaced online that businessman David Njoroge Kiarie made pots of gold from selling 5, 000 speed governors for KSh40, 000 each.
The speed limiters, according to media reports, were imported from China since Dalcom Enterprise – his enterprise in Ngara – had no capacity to carry out mass production.
David Kiarie said, since the news of his million-dollar project was broken on April 4, 2014, his life turned into a nightmare – he could no longer stay in the office to transact business or walk into his local entertainment pub for a drink.
The life of his close family members also changed, with relatives keen on having a piece of the cake trooping to his rural home in Kajiado County to greet the newest “millionaire in town”.
The media reports claimed Kiarie made KSh175 million, capitalising on the rush by matatu owners to fix their vehicles with digital speed governors as the March 31, 2014 deadline approached.
Just how and why did these reports come into existence, anyway?
Mr Kiarie, who owns a fleet of matatus plying Ngong–Nairobi CBD, route tells eDaily that his desire to fit public service vehicles with speed limiters tailored for Kenyan transport industry drove him to venture into the business – and that it took him 30 days to manufacture 30 speed limiters, which he sold for KSh20, 000 each. That translates to KSh600, 000 monthly gross returns on investment.
“Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) came up with standards for speed governors to be used on Kenyan roads early 2014. They had realised that the speed governors which were fitted on PSVs during Michuki time were from Britain, and in Britain people do not tamper with the gadgets as they would in Kenya.
“Having a proper background on electronics, I decided to supervise the manufacturing of speed governors that would be difficult to alter their functionality. Our governor (Dr Evans Kidero) was the first to test the gadgets made by my company in Kenya for Kenya. The speed governors took me two years to design and produce.
“After meeting KEBS standards, I took my gadgets to the government which approved them. My company was thus gazetted alongside five others, who would import theirs from foreign nations such as China, to supply Kenya’s transport industry with the governors.
“In assembling line, there was a challenge of producing speed governors in bulk. We did not have multiple production technologies such as that of Chinese firms. So, we could make one in a day and sell it for KSh20, 000. So, in a month, I made nearly KSh600, 000 from selling 30 speed limiters. If I deducted production expenses, including labor and capital, I made less than half a million in a month.
“Therefore, claims that I made KSh175 million in a day were purely out of malice. If I was making such a fortune, I don’t think I would even be in Kenya; probably (I would be) somewhere else living in very big mansions,” said Mr Kiarie.
The businessman suspects that his competitors in public transport business orchestrated the reports (that he made KSh175 million in a day) to leave him exposed, such that gangsters would keep him in their radar.
“Those were just unsubstantiated claims. For sections of media to write that I made KSh175 million in a day was shocking. Many people followed me – including gangsters who would call me to enquire my whereabouts. I think my competitors in the public transport business made up the story to scare me,” he said.
David Kiarie is the current chairman of Road Safety Association of Kenya.